Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some Moments Stolen from Life

Dear Readers,

I want to extend all my best wishes to each one of you on this day, the International Day of Happiness. And wish u all and me too a very good health, happiness and much love and positive vibe and everything good till  life stops responding.

I am more than excited to once again be on this blog. By seeing the increase in traffic in my little unintended & unconsistent blog i feel even more glad. Yes, there might be my followers and friends who might have felt my absence in the Blog sphere world for so long.

Nothing much and nothing more. However, i want to apologize all my readers who missed me to kindly accept my apology because i didn't intend to be missing for this long ahhhh exactly a year. This can all be attributed to nothing else but my sheer laziness which is overtaking me daily.

I am so sorry i even forgot to write a cessation letter to warn you before hand of my long absence.

I think the last post i wrote was on the 20th of March, 2014 on the International Happiness Day. If u have been following this blog then you might surely know. 

Well, leaving every thing aside, if i recall what i did all those time then i must say  i took all my energy to read. I got hold of tonnes of books from the local book stores and when i realised its going to empty my pocket soon, i subscribed for membership from the JDWN Library.

And, to add woes to it my eye sight has been deteriorating. So, got my vision tested just a couple of days ago. And, guess what my left eye vision is -6 and right is somewhere near -2 lo..

Actually the thing started even before i realized it. I knew it a long time ago when i was in school. But i was embarrassed to wear spectacles for some unknown reasons. hahah i can bear the effect now.

Oki, for some reasons i prefer to call this post ''SOME MOMENTS STOLEN FROM LIFE''. Because in my busy and unscheduled routine i dont even get time to eat my lunch then please spare a moment to think what can be the ideal title for this post. (just kidding)

Last weended we (12 of us) went for a cleaning campaign in the Dechenling area. For some reason we prefer to call ourselves HFR Group. So, i am leaving you with a picture of HFR Group. Sorry some of our members are missing.



Anyways, every single day i am more excited to breathe, live and pray to make our days more exciting and content.

Lots of happiness to you all always.

Wait for me..... who knows i might appear any time. Bye all, have a great weekend. And, wish you all a very Happy Day on this International Happiness Day.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Richengang Farmers Look Forwards to an Irrigated New Year

Channel: Although it is that time of year to drain water from paddy fields, Rinchengang farmers welcomed the irrigation, whose restoration and renovation was completed this month.

Farmers recall how difficult it had been during the transplantation months in June and July. “We had to keep guard throughout the night, as the water wasn’t sufficient and farmers stole from each other,” said a farmer.
They will not have to do this from next changla (transplantation season).  Renovating the 14-km long irrigation channel, the biggest in the gewog and initially constructed in the 1990s, cost Nu 2.3M.  The agriculture ministry funded the project.

Gewog officials said this was a major renovation and should ensure sufficient water.  The gewog administration officer of Thedtsho gewog said the renovation started in May and was supposed to complete within six months, but the contractor completed it in about three months.

Rinchengang tshogpa Sangay Penjore said the irrigation channel would benefits about 81 households of Rinchangang.  The source of the irrigation channel is from Nahi Rongchu. “Earlier, despite having an irrigation channel, villagers hardly got enough water, and we didn’t have an alternate source,” he said.

Sangay Penjore said the village did received financial support several times since it was initially built in 1990s; however, it was only for minor repair.  While the government provided them with some financial support to buy cement, villagers contributed labour and carried out the maintenance work, he said.  Most of the men are reputed masons.

“In 1994, we had to restore the broken parts of the irrigation channel using wooden planks,” Sangay Penjore said.

It would benefit all the villagers, especially those doing double transplantation or growing rice twice a year.

Published in Kuensel dated 24.09.2014
By Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Bhutan & it's Youths

Children Learning in Class Room



The future of the nation lies in the hands of our younger generation”.

- His Majesty King Jigme Singye Wangchuck of Bhutan

Bhutan is a nation currently undergoing a state of transition from age old traditions to modernization and witnessing unprecedented economic and political reforms. Modernization and the introduction of mass media have also caused a significant change in Bhutan’s youth culture. Bhutanese youth have the unique challenge to balance modernization with traditions.

Based on Bhutan’s current labour market structure, the most labour absorbing sectors are agriculture and construction sector. However, Bhutanese youths are generally reluctant to accept employment that is rural based and manual intensive.
 
While there have been many proposed policies to alleviate youth unemployment situation in Bhutan, such as the provision for developing the tertiary educations and vocational training and sending our youths abroad to work among others. Our government is already doing a lot to maintain 0% unemployment among the youths. I think the other option available for us at the moment is to advocate the importance of self employment through entrepreneurship to our youths who are desperately looking for employment opportunities.

The reasons for youth unemployment are very complex with factors ranging from demographic and social economics as well as multitude of other factors like demand, supply and preference of white collar jobs as well as mismatch of expectations in skill level between prospective youths and employer.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the youths of Bhutan try to embrace agribusiness as a source of income and livelihood which will result in self employment and eradicate poverty and assist in food security in the country. The Ministry of Agriculture is already doing a lot in terms of assisting our farmers in terms of food production but it should also consider agripreneurship as a source of livelihood among the youths and encourage youths into the agri sector.

If you genuinely care for our future then join this informal discussion tomorrow on the topic "How can Bhutan employ its young workforce meaningfully? Can export labour solve Bhutan's unemployment problems? How can we replace migrant labourers worth around 7 billion ngultrums with local skills?". The Loden Foundation invites you to an informal discussion with Prof Mark Mancall, Dasho Kinley Dorji, Dr Karma Phuntsho and many others at Cafe Italia, 7.30pm, Friday, 21 March, 2014.

On that note, i would like to wish each and every one of you a very Happy International Happy Day. This day is very important to Bhutan because inspired by Bhutan Guiding Development Principle "Gross National Happiness" and our King's vision of "Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product", the United Nation endorsed March 20th as the Happy Day. :)

 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Escalating Cost of Paddy Cultivation

Development doesn’t necessarily bring prosperity.  While the cities and towns are flying high in their new-found opulence, far-flung communities in the dzongkhags are going dry.

And the increasing rural to urban migration makes the matter worse by scraping food out of people’s mouth.
Growing rice – the staple food of the Bhutanese – is becoming difficult, especially in places like Trashigang.  So, the cost of a kilogram of rice continues to rise from year to year, posing formidable challenge to the poor to put food on the table.

For a large number of people in the rural areas, whose daily income is Nu 125, Nu 75 a kilogram of rice is brutal.

In Trashigang, for instance, a kilogram of local rice costs no less than Nu 65.  The price has been rising continuously since 2008. In places like Rongthung and Rangshikhar in Trashigang, a kilogram of rice can cost anywhere between Nu 70 and 75.

However, government reports claim that production of rice in the country has increased over the years.

In Radhi, the rice bowl of the east, the price of rice has gone up as high as Nu 65 a kilogram.  Just about five years ago, a kilogram of rice did not cost more than Nu 37.  Radhi produces two varieties of local rice – Sorbang and Sungsung.  In 2008, a kilogram of Sorbang rice cost Nu 37.  Today it is Nu 60.  Likewise, a kilogram of Sungsung rice was Nu 45 six years ago.  It is Nu 65 a kilogram today.

And the price of rice will continue to increase due to shortage of labour in the villages.  Rural to urban migration has left no able-bodied people in the villages, which has triggered rise in the cost of labour, threatening the overall production of rice in the dzongkhag.

Currently, the cost of labour in Trashigang has reached Nu 200-250 a day.  Just a year ago, the cost of labour stood at Nu 150.

Apart from rural to urban migration, booming construction industry and availability of cheap substitute from India are the leading factors that contribute to increase in the price of local rice.

As land in the rural areas of Bhutan are increasingly left fallow due to shortage of labour, time may not be far when rural people’s stomachs will be stuck to their bones.

The only recourse, the farmers say, is the national dream – urban wellbeing and rural prosperity.

By Tempa Wangdi

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Minister Outlines Plans to Boost Production

Besides assisting farmers, the agriculture ministry wants to involve itself in cultivating, producing and processing major food items like meat, milk and rice.

This is one major activity the ministry intends to carry out in the next few years to achieve food self-sufficiency.

Bhutan’s performance, when it comes to food self sufficiency, is one of the lowest in the region.  The country has a little more than 50 percent self-sufficiency in rice production, 6 percent sufficiency in terms of edible oil, and close to zero percent in terms of meat.

Against this backdrop, recent statistics show imports of rice, edible oil and meat increasing significantly.
According to the Royal Monetary Authority’s annual report, published early this year, total value of rice imports increased from Nu 853M in 2011 to Nu 1.25B in 2012.  Edible oil imports increased from Nu 667M to Nu 926M, and meat increased from Nu 642M to Nu 1B in the same period.

Overall, there is a Nu 4.2B deficit in the balance of food trade (export minus imports).  This is more than half the total net earning made by the hydropower sector in a year.

To reduce dependence on imports, agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said the ministry will be establishing mega farms, slaughterhouses in the country, dairy farms, piggery, fishery and turkey farming, among others.

“We want to change the way we do things and we’ll achieve food self-sufficiency only with these kind of activities,” lyonpo said.

“Bhutanese on an average consume around two pigs weighing 70 kilograms a year,” the minister said.
Officials from the agriculture ministry had earlier said that the ministry received a less percentage share of budget to carry out any activities to boost production.

The budget allocated for the agriculture sector had steadily dropped from around 44 percent in the 4th five-year plan to only 2.8 percent in the current plan.

Other plans, the minister said, to increase self-sufficiency, was to cultivate rice in another 2,000 hectares 2014.  Plans also include buying raw paddy from India and processing them in the country before selling it to domestic consumers.

This, the minister said, had various advantages, because it will be cheaper to buy raw paddy than rice, and it can be supplied fresh in the domestic market.

Similarly, raw edible oil would be imported before processing and selling to domestic consumers.

When it came to budgetary constraints, lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said that, in terms of absolute figures, the budget allocated for the agriculture sector has been increasing although in terms of percentage share it has been dropping.

“So, in reality, our budget hasn’t dropped, and this is only because other ministries came up along the way and the budget was shared,” the lyonpo said.

By the end of the 11th Plan, the lyonpo said, actual budget for the sector would have rather increased, as there are many funding agencies for the sector, since it has an important bearing on poverty reduction.

In the 11th Plan, Nu 5B has been allocated for the sector, and this might increase to Nu 7B by the end of the Plan period, he said.

By Nidup Gyeltshen (Kuensel)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Samden Coffee Won't be Smelt For a While

Samden coffee won’t be smelt for a while

 
IMG_1695 
Villagers work on coffee saplings in the nursery

Had everything gone as planned, Bhutan would have had its first homegrown coffee in the market by this time.
However, Samden coffee plantation had to “downscale” its operations since 2012 because of lack of funds, as project officials claimed.

It means the company based in Hangay under Sipsu gewog in Samtse has temporarily suspended operations.  It was not shut down as many villagers speculated, officials clarified.
Otherwise, its general manager, Hemant Gurung, said, by the end of 2013, they should have processed the coffee to make available in the market by 2014.

“But we had to suspend because there was no fund to carry out the project,” he said. “We were also delayed because of the bureaucratic procedures involved to acquire land in Sipsu.”

Hemant Gurung said the project had to be suspended after financial institutions stopped giving loans, and a ban was imposed on vehicle import following rupee situation in the country.

“We inaugurated the project in mid 2011,” he said. “But by the time we were ready to take up the work by 2012, country was hit with rupee crunch.”

He said the project’s “sister company”, Samden and Hyundai Automobile, were the ones that sponsored the project.  The economic situation had hampered the company that started running into loss.

Meanwhile, with the government recently approving lease of 260 acres of reserved forestland at Kalimati and Sasboti in Hangay village, the project is expected to pick up.

A memorandum of understanding was signed with agriculture ministry.

Hemant Gurung said, once the project was completed, it would benefit local communities, because farmers have already been distributed with coffee saplings since 2011, which they would sell to the plantation under “buy-back guarantee scheme”.

“Then we’ll have our own processing unit to produce coffee,” he said. “We’ll also market and export the coffee.”

It was projected that a kilogram of coffee beans would fetch a farmer about Nu 20,000 a month for coffee plantation on a five-acre land.  The project had imported 100kg of Arabica coffee beans from Nepal in 2009, while 15 percent were beans grown locally.

The general manager said they have distributed about 6,000 coffee saplings to eight chiwogs in Sipsu. “We failed to distribute to other gewogs we targeted, all because of budget constraints,” he said.

In 2012, the project had to retrench some workers, who were mostly villagers from Sipsu hired to hoe weeds, look after plant nursery and to put manure.

“We had to retrench almost 220 villagers, because of insufficient work and fund,” Hemant Gurung said. “But we had meeting with the villagers and we’ll take them back once the situation improves.”

With the project working “internally” to get fund, they are hopeful that work would resume by January end.
“If this fund comes through, we’ll start the work,” general manager said, adding that way, they would be able to market the coffee by 2015 or 2016.

He also said the fund was important, because coffee needed constant organic fertiliser and water. “We haven’t been able to provide, so some coffee plants are drying up.”

With Sipsu being susceptible to wild elephant rampages every year, locals, who have grown coffee, said they saw the plantation lucrative since they observed that wild elephants showed no interest in coffee plants.

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Sipsu  (Kuensel)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Bhutan- Thailand friendship offer on tourism launched on His Majesty’s Birthday


The Tashichhoedzong in Thimphu


Bhutan and Thailand celebrated 25 years of friendship and diplomatic relations, coinciding with His Majesty the King’s 34 birth anniversary yesterday.

On the occasion the Royal Government of Bhutan has made an offer to the government of Thailand for promoting people to people contact in continuing its friendship and bilateral cooperation through tourism.

The ‘Bhutan- Thailand Friendship Offer’ was launched by His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuk in J.W Marriott Hotel in Bangkok yesterday.

As a part of the ‘Bhutan – Thailand Friendship offer’ the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) would exempt the Thai nationals from paying the mandatory minimum daily package rate and would only levy the daily royalty of USD 65 person per night during the peak seasons like June, July and August.

Further Drukair and Bhutan Airlines would offer 50 % discounts on airfares to the Thai nationals, while hotels would also provide discount of 50% for every halt. In addition Thai visitors would enjoy a special airport reception arrangement on arrival.

However, such facilities will be offered only to those Thai nationals who visit Bhutan through licensed Bhutanese tour operators.

During the launch the Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay said that such an exceptional offer particularly to the Thai nationals would further strengthen the relationship between the two countries and its people.

Lyonchhen also added that Thai and Bhutanese citizens have similar reverence and respect for the His Majesty and the royal families for both the countries. “More importantly this year Bhutan and Thailand celebrates its 25 years of friendship” said Lyonchhen.

The Prime Minister also added that apart from agriculture and hydro power, tourism is an important means for economic development and generating revenue for the country. Hence he said that it is very important to promote tourism in Bhutan by coming up with special plans and programs for visitors.

Lyonchhen said that tourists have the perception of a cold harsh climate during winter and incessant rainfall during summer which is why many visitors chose to visit in the month of June, July and August. Therefore, the government has plans to attract more visitors by providing diversification of services and products.

“This is the first such offer for the first time by Bhutan to Thailand, and similar offers would be made to other countries too” Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said. The PM said that such an offer to Thailand would also serve as a trial opportunity.

Tanden Zangmo/ Thimphu (Published in The Bhutanese, Feb. 21st, 2014)