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Farm machinery hiring services from 11th Plan

The agriculture and forests ministry will introduce a nationwide hiring services for farm machinery in the next five year plan to increase farm mechanisation in country.

This was revealed during a committee meeting for the food security project for underprivileged farmers, between government and Japanese officials, yesterday in Thimphu.

Currently, about 70 percent of the populace is involved in farming, but only two to three percent are using farm machinery, according to agricultural machinery centre (AMC) program director, Karma Thinley.

He said the concept of hiring in the agricultural sector is not new, and that farmers have been hiring to each other informally, and without cash transactions.

He also said the hiring system has been introduced in the southern regions of the country, under the rice commercialisation and productivity improvement program, and has proved that farmers will demand the service.

Karma Thinley pointed out that the agriculture ministry has recently decided that the hiring system is required at the grassroots level for primarily two reasons: farmers unable to afford buying machines and, even if farmers own machines, the area available to them for farming usually being small leads to machinery under utilisation.

The hiring system would make farm machineries accessible to more farmers, and increase the utility of the machines, Karma Thinley said.

He also explained that as the number of farm machineries received under the Japanese KR-II grant is low, when compared to the demand, so distribution is a challenge.

When introduced, the hiring service will include machinery such as tractors, power tillers, transplanters and harvesters, among others.

Initially, the service will be run by the government, in collaboration with the dzongkhags.  Gradually, cooperatives and the private sector will be involved, according to Karma Thinley.

He also said that the service could begin with 100 units, which would have to be gradually increased to cover all 205 gewogs, for the farming sector to benefit.

By Gyalsten K Dorji

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