Ensuring access to food and natural resources by 2040

The lack of accounting ecosystem services provided by the sector reflects it as non-performing sector

Sonam Penjor

Ensuring sustainable social and economic well-being of the Bhutanese people through adequate access to food and natural resources by 2040, is the Renewable Natural Resources (RNR) sector’s new mantra.

Although the sector has adequate human and financial resources, it is constrained by strategic issues of frequent organizational review, policy conflict, ad-hoc derailment of plans, lack of cascading plans, exclusion of stakeholders, and absence of objective monitoring and evaluation, according to the RNR strategy, 2040, published by Ministry of Agriculture and Forests.

Additionally, the lack of accounting ecosystem services provided by the sector reflects it as non-performing sector. The take-up of commercialization drive has been very slow without any snowballing effect, as it encountered the challenge of informal value chains often shielded by deceptive practices.

In general, excessive focus on small-holder farmers and exclusion of private sector has restrained innovation, mechanization, promotion of smart technologies and expeditious expansion of scale of production.

To actualize transformational change in the sector, RNR strategy 2040 proposes eleven strategies comprising of enhance production and quality of RNR commodities, enhance contribution of RNR sector to national economy, accelerate agri-business development and expansion, develop enabling policies for RNR sector, strengthen research, innovation and dissemination, and institute efficient RNR service delivery.

This also include to enhance production efficiency of RNR commodities, promote research and innovation, diversify sustainable financing for RNR sector development, mainstream sustainable management through conservation and utilization of natural resources and enhance and promote resilience to climate change impacts to achieve the vision of “Sustainable natural resources and self-reliant food systems contributing to inclusive socio-economic well-being of Bhutanese”.

There are 114 initiatives congruent to the 11 strategies identified by different sub-sectors spread over short term that’s for five years, medium term for 10 years and long term for 20 years.

Based on the prioritization, the strategy states that 75 percent of the initiatives were identified for the short-term intervention, followed by 13 percent and 11 percent intervention slotted for medium-term and long-term respectively based on the ease of implementation and stakeholder benefit. The total financing requirement to implement the initiatives is projected at Nu 21,641-million.

The budget is also rationally distributed over short term with 35 percent, medium term with 36 percent and long term with 29 percent to maintain continuum of the initiatives.

Following the past financing of RNR programs, the RNR strategy 2040 can feasibly be financed through multiple approaches like public investment, grant assistance, soft loan from domestic/international financial institutions, private sector investment, and foreign direct investment.

Meanwhile, the strategic framework and map evidently present the logical flow and cause-effect relationship of the strategic objectives leading to achievement of three strategic results of safe and healthy environment, self-reliant food system, and inclusive socio-economic well-being thereby accomplishing the RNR sector vision by 2040.

It also states that the past trends of support by the state and the development partners, is a convincing demonstration of assured support for the future initiatives embodied in the 114 initiatives of RNR strategy 2040.