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IFAD partnership in Bhutan reaping benefits for farmers

06 November 2019

Yeshi Dema is a farmer in Bumdeling, as part of a local women’s group supported by an IFAD-financed project, she has learned about new techniques to cope with climate change.

Most of the population of Bhutan depend on farming to make a living. However, as the climate crisis bites, this Himalayan nation is being hit by erratic rain, hailstorms and flash floods. This in turn is effecting farmers’ production.

Bhutan’s Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Yeshey Penjor, recently took up his position with the countries new government, and, he has already had a chance to meet with officials from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“Within two months of assuming the portfolio of Minister of Agriculture and Forests I had the opportunity to visit Rome and meet with the IFAD authorities and look at how IFAD is helping Bhutan.”

The minister was keen to point out the positive impact of the IFAD-supported Commercial Agriculture Resilience and Livelihood Programme (CARLEP). This programme has been working for the past three years through the six mountainous districts in eastern Bhutan.

“I studied in the eastern region and during my civil service career travelled widely through this part of Bhutan. Agriculture and livestock farming was quite backward in the past in this part of the country and people were dependent on imported foods.”

“But now, visiting as Minister I am happy to see the outputs of the IFAD-supported CARLEP project. They have carried out an almost miracle here in the eastern region.”

CARLEP is helping farmers adapt successfully to climate change, increasing production sustainably and developing new markets. Working with women and youth groups they are reintroducing traditional hardy crop varieties and also moving rice paddy to highland areas out of the way of devastating flash floods.

The Minister was visiting schools and hospitals in the region where farmers working with CARLEP are now selling their produce, giving them a guaranteed market and reducing food imports.

“This success speaks to how important and supportive IFAD has been in Bhutan’s development. As the Minister of Agriculture and Forests I want to express gratitude to IFAD on behalf of the government of Bhutan and the Ministry.”

“Also as someone who is so attached to the people of the eastern region I would like to thank IFAD and all the member countries of IFAD for having such a positive impact in this part of the country.”

“In the past Bhutan’s eastern region would come close to the top of the international poverty list, but this is now reversing as farmers with the help of CARLEP are producing more sustainably in the face of climate change,” added the Minister.