Japan Provides 353 More Power Tillers

The Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu handed over 353 sets of power tillers and accessories worth Nu 137 million to the agriculture minister, Yeshey Dorji in a simple ceremony at the Agriculture Machinery Centre in Paro yesterday.

Japan provides 353 more power tillers to Bhutan. (Source: http://www.kuenselonline.com)

 

Come summer, farmers across Bhutan will have access to more power tillers to help them complete paddy transplantation works on time. n the last 30 years, Japan has provided 3,592 farm machines for Bhutan.

Abundant help from Japan

The Ambassador of Japan to Bhutan, Kenji Hiramatsu handed over 353 sets of power tillers and accessories worth Nu 137 million to the agriculture minister, Yeshey Dorji in a simple ceremony at the Agriculture Machinery Centre in Paro yesterday.

The power tillers were received through the project that was initiated in 2015 based on the request for 1,450 power tillers. Since then Japan has provided 592 power tillers.

“We’re waiting to furnish the remaining 858 power tillers for proper and efficient use of these machines,” the Ambassador said.

He said that over the past 30 years, Japan has provided 3,592 farm machines. “We can say that the farm machines are the symbols of friendship with Bhutan,” he said.

Benefits of the power tillers

Thanking the people and the government of Japan, Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that the power tillers would greatly contribute to the country’s efforts in farm mechanisation, which is one of the most important programmes implemented by the ministry.

“The machines we receive today will uplift the lives of more than half of the Bhutanese population who depend on agriculture, which is why assistance in this sector is deeply valued and appreciated,” Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said.

Ambassador Kenji Hiramatsu said that his government understands the importance of agriculture to Bhutan. It is therefore not surprising that agricultural cooperation between the two countries has a long history, he said.

“Recognising this importance, Japan will continue to support the agriculture sector in Bhutan,” he said.

Agriculture productivity in the country today is compromised by the lack of farm labour, which has substantial negative impact on household food security, the minister said.

Lyonpo said that with farm mechanisation, farming could be transformed into cost-effective, economically efficient, more rewarding, and a less drudgery enterprise.

The role of the Farm Machinery Corporation Ltd (FMCL)

The Farm Machinery Corporation Ltd (FMCL) was instituted a year ago to deliver effective and efficient service and the optimal utilisation of farm machinery, meeting demands of the farmers and to encourage commercial agriculture.

The FMCL today has 505 power tillers for hiring. The power tillers will be distributed to the hiring centres of FMCL.

The FMCL chief executive officer, Karma Thinley said that unlike in the past, these power tillers will be held at the three centres in Nubding, Drakteng, and Buli in Zhemgang.

“This is one of the lessons we learnt from giving power tillers to the gewog centres in the earlier batches,” Karma Thinley said. “There is a problem in the operation and maintenance of the machines.”

The corporation has also requested for Nu 80 million in assistance to procure spare parts. “We’ll buy and keep the mostly used spare parts so that users don’t have to wait to buy these spares,” Karma Thinley said.

The corporation has employed 333 youth as operators of which 10 have quit.

Challenges faced by the Farm Machinery Corporation Ltd (FMCL)

The idea, he said, is to recruit youth as operators initially and then gradually hand over the operation and maintenance to them so that they can become entrepreneurs. However, it has remained a challenge for the corporation to get adequate applicants.

“That’s why we’ve to collaborate with the labour ministry on the recruitment,” he said.

The corporation has placed operators in more than 100 gewog centres. It is expected to open 65 centres by June this year.

Bhutan has received a total of 3,186 power tillers worth Nu 1.803 Billion from Japan’s Kenedy Round II (KR-II) in 25 batches since its inception in 1984.

The agriculture ministry records show that the country has received power tillers and other farm machinery from Japan through the KR-II grant assistance that began in 1984.

Until 2015, Bhutan has received 2,795 power tillers through the KR-II grant.

With the aid of the KR-II grants, more than 13,099 acres of farmland have been mechanised. Each acre of farmland that has been mechanised is equivalent to six people who would have otherwise been required there.

The agriculture officials said that it has also led to a 15 percent increase in crop yield and 49 percent reduction in farm production costs.

 

By Tshering Palden (This article has been edited for the New Bhutan Times)

This article first appeared on Kuensel.

 

 

 


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