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Budget: Of the 197.6km of major irrigation schemes, the agriculture ministry built or repaired only 66km until June this year.

Irrigation schemes desperate for funds

Budget: Of the 197.6km of major irrigation schemes, the agriculture ministry built or repaired only 66km until June this year.

Agriculture secretary Rinzin Dorji said that there is no budget for the remaining works. “29km are in progress as spill over activity from the previous fiscal,” he reported during the mid-year review of the annual performance agreements yesterday.

The agriculture department faced by budget constraints proposed to drop the schemes for want of budget during the ministry’s mid-term review in 2015.

Of the 108 identified irrigation canals worth Nu 2.2 billion  (B) in the 11th Plan, 36 schemes started in the 2014-15 fiscal year with a budget of Nu 191M.

Another 35 were identified for the 2015-16 fiscal year but the ministry is still seeking funds.

The department proposed a revised budget from Nu 2.3B in the budget outlay to Nu 2.52B.

The agriculture ministry has a cereal production target of 223,737 metric tonnes (MT) at the end of the Plan of which the paddy production target is 98,894MT per annum. The ministry has achieved a production of 78,763MT per annum from a baseline of 78,730MT at the start of the Plan.

The agriculture department during the 11th Plan mid-term review reported that while the proposed outlay budget to implement 108 schemes was Nu 2.5 billion, there was no funding assurance apart from Government of India’s Nu 390 million and a few from other projects. There was no funding assurance for the 88 remaining schemes then.

The department had proposed to reduce the target of “increased paddy field area under improved irrigation system” from 79,040 to 61,447 acres.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that there were many minor irrigation projects the local governments are carrying out. “The budget issue is with the major schemes that the ministry is doing,” he said.

Irrigation is one of the seven target areas of the ministry that are at risk of not being realised.

The ministry also reduced the mushroom production target from 113MT to 60MT.

“It has taken time to set up the laboratory facilities after the National Mushroom Centre shifted from Yusipang to Wangchutaba which is affecting the production of spawn,” Rinzin Dorji said. The centre also has budget constraints.

Lyonchoen Tshering Tobgay said that he will review the formation of human-wildlife conflict management committees with ministry officials after the ministry asked to drop it.

“There is no approved budget for the activity so we propose it to be replaced by a compensation scheme or postpone it to the next fiscal year,” Rinzin Dorji said.

The review meeting chaired by the Prime Minister also reduced the targets for maize, wheat, and potato production this fiscal.

The agriculture ministry reported that wild life depredation, and hailstorm, besides other calamities has affected the production of maize. The target has been revised to 84,661MT from 96,106MT.

Frost, hailstorm, and rotting from heavy monsoon made the ministry ask for reduction in the potato production target from 62,952MT to 50,000MT.

“Wheat production has suffered from competition from other more commercial crops coupled with loss of interest from farmers,” Rinzin Dorji said. The target for wheat production was reduced to 5,000MT from 8,043MT.

Of the Nu 3.9 billion approved budget for 2016-17 fiscal, the ministry has received Nu 2.05 billion, Nu 1.34 billion for  current expenditure and Nu 705 million for capital works, as of December last year.

Of the 74 success indicators, the ministry has achieved seven, while 60 targets are on track.

“The performance agreement represents an important accountability mechanism for inculcating a performance-based culture at all levels of government,” Lyonchoen said.

Tshering Palden

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