Linking to Markets Key to Livelihoods

AMP consultation meeting at Thimphu on 19 October 2015. Pictured are participants from eight districts of West Bhutan (Samtse, Haa, Paro, Chukha, Thimphu, Punakha, Wangdue, Gasa).

Consultation meetings on Agriculture Marketing Policy (AMP) of Bhutan in Gelephu for Central Bhutan were completed on October 16, 2015 and in Thimphu,Western Bhutan on October 19, 2015 between ICIMOD, the Department of Agriculture Marketing and Co-operatives (DAMC) and Policy and Planning Division (PPD), Ministry of Agriculture and Forests (MOAF), Bhutan.

Linking small primary producers to markets remains one of the major issues in improving liveli-hoods of the rural populations in Bhutan according to the chairman of Sarpang Poultry Associa-tion, Dr Karma Wangchuk. 

‘Typically, farmers complain of a lack of market for their produce, while processors, and export-ers complain of a lack of adequate supplies of quality produce’, Wangchuk told meeting at-tendees in Bhutan. ‘This marketing paradox and many other issues related to trade have arisen due to lack of agriculture marketing policy.  As such, the initiatives taken by the ministry are timely and policy should serve as guiding document to facilitate the systematic marketing of ag-riculture commodities for the benefit of both producers and consumers’.  

The meetings were attended by representatives from local government, district authorities, offi-cials from extension, members from customs and trade, Food Corporation of Bhutan, non-government organisations, women’s associations and private entrepreneurs. Resource persons from DAMC, PPD and livelihood specialist from ICMOD facilitated the workshop. A total of 100 participants were in attendance. 

To date, the consultation process has provided a wide range of stakeholder input from 14 dis-tricts of Bhutan. An additional meeting with six districts of east Bhutan was held on 30 Novem-ber 2015. The process supported by ICIMOD accomplished integrating views from diverse stakeholders from all 20 districts of Bhutan. 

A community leader from Chang, Thimphu District, Mr. Ugyen, suggested the AMP should be supported by practical implementation plan with clearly defined roles and responsibilities of the key stakeholders. 

‘Many times, the government polices just remains on the paper without implementation’, Ugyen said.

The final policy paper is planned to be presented to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forest at the end of December 2015, where relevant heads of department, agencies, and private sectors will be present and will be chaired by the minister, MoAF, Bhutan. 

AMP consultation meeting at Gelephu on 16/10/2015. Participants from 6 districts of Central Bhu-tan (Bumthang, Trongsa, Zhemgang, Sarpang, Tsirang, Dagana)