AGRICULTURE DEVELOPMENT POLICIES & PROGRAMMES
Bhutan was traditionally self-sufficient in food production. Most of Bhutan's citizens and a significant amount of its GDP were devoted to the agricultural sector in the late1980s. Bhutan is a small landlocked eastern Himalayan country which is bordered by India in the east, west and south and china in the north. Its geographical land area is 38,394km which is almost entirely mountainous. According to the Population and Housing Census, 2005; the Bhutanese population is close to 700000, out of which almost 70% reside in country sides. Moreover the NSB report 2007 also states 23.2 % of Bhutanese people are poor and of that 98.1% of the rural population are poor based on the national poverty line of Nu.1096.94 per month. As per the vision of 10th five year plan rural livelihood in Bhutan is supported by farming which is characterized by inherent inter-dependence among forests, livestock and agricultural enterprises. Therefore, enhancement of rural livelihood will involve improvement of economic returns from these enterprises. Commercialization of farming and diversification of utilization of forest resources will be promoted to facilitate development of rural-based small-scale industries to process and add value to the products. Through this alternative employment and livelihood opportunities will be enhanced. The pursuit of this objective will lead to increase in food production and enhancement of cash income to the rural population and contribute to poverty alleviation.
Before going further it is important to know what agriculture is. Most of us believe that agriculture is something to do with farmers. Yes of course it is but agriculture is more than this. According to the web definition “agriculture is the art and business of cultivating soil, raising livestock and producing crops. It is also called farming or husbandry”.
Agriculture in Bhutan is still centered on smallholders, primarily subsistence –orientated, mixed crop- livestock farming systems with variable access to the marketing opportunities for small surplus production. Traditionally because of the farming challenges such as geographical location, limited access to farm road, limited information about market, and limited variety of seeds for farming farmers in Bhutan are only engaged in producing what is needed for themselves. Tobgay (2005), also argued that majority of Bhutanese farmers are small and marginal. A small farmer in Bhutan subsists on farming by growing crops ranging from rice, wheat, maize, buckwheat, potatoes and barley depending on the climatic conditions. A sub-sector or certain section of the farmers also dwells on animal husbandry by rearing cattle. Farming in Bhutan is a challenge because of small land size holding and rugged topography with steep slopes of most agricultural land, making farm labor intensive and mechanization difficult. Further, majority of the farms are located at a distance of roughly five to six hours walk from the nearest road head.
Gurung (2012) also stated in his study that “Bhutanese agriculture is still largely based on the traditional subsistence oriented mixed farming systems that integrate cropping, livestock rearing, and use of forest products”. As a subsistence farming, Bhutanese farmer grows crops ranging from rice, maize, wheat, buckwheat, potatoes, barley, millet and mustard depending on the climatic conditions, apart from livestock rearing which is also an integral part of the farming life in Bhutan. It is important as it supports food, draught power and nutrient recycling (Gurung, 2012). However, the agriculture contribution to GDP has been declining over the years, its contribution has declined from 26% in 2001 to 19% in 2008 (NSB,2009), yet agriculture still is still one of the most important sector in the Bhutanese economy and development process.
As important it is the government of Bhutan has also initiated its development and growth in...
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