World Bank grants US$ 8mn to increase agricultural productivity
Bhutan and World Bank signed a US$ 8mn Global Agriculture Food Security Program (GAFSP) grant agreement on Thursday that will help increase agricultural productivity and enhance access to markets for farmers in selected gewogs across Southwest Bhutan.
“The World Bank is extremely pleased that through this grant we will be able to support the Royal Government of Bhutan’s strategic plan of improving food security and agriculture productivity,” said the World Bank’s Resident Representative for Bhutan, Mr. Yoichiro Ishihara.
Bhutan has made impressive progress in poverty reduction and economic growth in the past decade driven by accelerating commercialization of agriculture, rapid development of rural infrastructure, and recent hydro-electric projects. Despite this growth, the agriculture trade deficit has been increasing and farmers still lack adequate access to markets.
Recognizing the importance of the food and agriculture sector to the national economy, the government has assigned significant priority to agricultural development in its 11th Five Year Plan (2013-18).
Agriculture employs the majority of the rural poor, providing livelihoods to 58% of the total population, and has the potential to ensure greater inclusiveness of growth, while reducing the country’s food import bill and combating malnutrition affecting children (less than five years of age) countrywide.
This project will be implemented in five south-western dzongkhags of Chukha, Dagana, Haa, Samtse and Sarpang.
“The agriculture sector is seen as one of the ‘five jewels’ of Bhutan and the lives of many Bhutanese depend on it. The security and agriculture productivity project will support the government’s food goal of moving from subsistence farming to the commercialization of agriculture through value chain development,” said Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji.
He added that the new project will further enhance Bhutan’s agriculture production which has steadily been increasing after years of decline.
The GAFSP funded Food Security and Agricultural Productivity Project (FSAPP) will be implemented over five years (2017-22) and will support Bhutan’s efforts to reduce rural poverty, food insecurity, and malnutrition.
The project seeks to address multiple problems faced by farmers and rural households through a set of integrated, consolidated, and area-specific interventions.
Specific interventions include strengthening farmers’ groups and building their technical and business capacities; increasing the productivity of food and high-value crops through water use efficiency and improved agri-inputs and technologies, and enhancing access to markets for farmers through post-harvest and market infrastructure support and linkages to domestic and export markets.
FSAPP grant builds on past World Bank projects supporting the agriculture sector and rural development in Bhutan.
World Bank will be the supervising entity while the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will provide technical assistance for the project.
(left to right) Finance Minister Namgay Dorji, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji of MoAF and Mr. Yoichiro Ishihara, the World Bank’s Resident Representative for Bhutan