The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Friday, July 23, 2010

1,000 apply for 152 power tillers

Priority will be given to farmers, who form groups to share the machine

Power To The People: In the last 26 years, Bhutan has received about Nu 1.5B grant assistance from Japan

Japanese KR II grant 9 July, 2010 - The agriculture ministry has received more than 1,000 applications from farmers across the country for the 152 power tillers the Japanese government recently gave under its KR II grant.

Unable to decide, the executive agricultural engineer, Karma Thinley, said the criteria for providing the machines would be done by the dzongkhag, after analysing which farmers in what part of the country were in most need of the power tillers.

He said they would consider farmers’ cultivable land, poverty index, demand from the respective dzongkhag, and farm road availability. The ministry would send the information to the agriculture machinery centre in Paro, which would then distribute the power tillers.

Agriculture ministry’s policy states priority would be given to farmers, who form groups to work together and share the machine.

The power tillers come with accessories and spare parts worth 180M yen.

Along with the power tillers, KR-II grant’s Japanese non project grant aid (JNPGA 2008) has provided other agricultural machinery, which include 35 tractors, 77 paddy transplanters, 25 water pumps, 165 sets of plastic for greenhouses and 85,000 seedlings for underprivileged farmers worth 200M yen.

The first secretary, Japanese embassy in New Delhi, Manabu Suzuki, formally handed over the machines to the ministry last evening in Thimphu.

Lyonpo (Dr) Pema Gyamtsho said the KR-II grant was an unusual assistance to Bhutan, supporting the country’s development by strengthening the grassroots.

He said the country’s progress was in being able to mechanise, not just its farming activities, but all other development activities requiring labour.

The KR II came into being, following the Kennedy round table conference in 1967, which required commitment from developed countries to provide food assistance to those struck with epidemic and famine.

Japan was one of the main donor countries to countries with food shortages, which were many.

Japan formulated a new grant scheme in 1977, which, instead of just supplying food, provided assistance to help developing countries increase their food produce. The scheme came to be known as the KR-II grant.

Bhutan qualified the category and reaped its benefits since 1984. Under the grant, only agricultural machines, fertilisers, and chemicals were considered essential to increase food production, but for Bhutan, agricultural machines were more important.

In the last 26 years, Bhutan has received grant assistance from Japan amounting to about Nu 1.5B. It accounted for more than 2,000 power tillers, 300 tractors, rice mills, threshers, harvesters and irrigation pumps.

The relationship between Bhutan and Japan has continued to grow ever since Dasho Keiji Nishioka came to Bhutan in 1964.

By Kuenga Tendar

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