Improvement of Farm Roads Project

1. What are the objectives of implementing farm road improvement projects?

Improvement of Farm Roads was undertaken as part of the Economic Contingency Plan with the aim of boosting local economy, local employment generation, import substitutions. GNHC is responsible for the overall coordination of the programme in close consultation with MoAF, MoWHS and Local Government Administrations (Dzongkhags and Gewogs).

Specific objectives of the improvement of farm roads are as follows:
a. To promote food self-sufficiency,
b. To foster local economic growth, &
c. To connect farm products to the market through reliable connectivity.

2. What is the total number of farm roads identified for improvement works?

A total of around 2,312 numbers of existing farm roads measuring approximately 9,883 km have been identified for improvement works amounting to approximately Nu.16.5 billion. In view of resource mobilization status as well as ease of implementation, the identified farm roads have been listed under phases- I, II and III.

3. When was the improvement of farm roads under Phase I initiated?

The improvement of the farm roads under Phase I was initiated in September 2020. Under phase I, implementation of improvement works on one farm road per Gewog is ongoing. A total budget of approximately Nu. 2.6 billion will be utilized to cover approximately 1555 km length of existing farm roads.

4. What is the project duration of the improvement of farm roads under Phase I?
It was envisaged that projects will be completed within six (6) months. However, considering the length of the farm road, geographical and weather conditions and the current pandemic situation, completion timeline will vary in the respective LG Administrations.

The first farm road was completed in about five (5) months (Burrichhu-Dovan FR, Sergithang Gewog, Tsirang).

5. How were these farm roads prioritized for improvement works?
The prioritization of farm roads were based on the following four criteria:
a. Production (35%)
b. Year of Construction (15%)
c. No. of Households (25%)
d. Acreage of Farmland (25%)
Farm Roads with longer length, serving more households and connecting land with better production potential were given higher priority. Further, the prioritized list was validated by LGs.

6. What is the per unit cost for improvement works?
The per unit cost for improvement works is Nu. 1.66 m per kilometer for GSB and drainage. Costing has been technically estimated by the Ministry of Works and Human Settlement.

7. What scope of works are included under Improvement of Farm Roads? Can LGs
undertake other works?
The improvement works include Granular Sub-Base (GSB) and Drains (V-shaped) drains only. However, for undertaking different works besides those included in the scope, LGs have the flexibility to do so provided additional budget is topped-up from its RAF-resources. LGs are responsible to ensure that the resources provided are efficiently used towards improving the existing farm roads making it pliable throughout the year.

8. What are the technical specifications for the improvement works?
The technical specifications provided for works under Phase I are as follows:
a. Granular Sub-Base (GSB): 200 mm
b. Cross fall: 2.5%
c. Drain width: 0.8 m (V-drains)
The specifications have been developed by MoWHS.

9. Why was the GSB chosen as the option for carrying out farm road improvement
Estimations were carried out for blacktopping, rigid pavement and GSB. In order to cover all the identified farm roads, budget requirement of approximately Nu. 52 billion, Nu. 57 billion and Nu. 16 billion respectively was projected. Considering the affordability, availability of local raw materials, local labor, private sector engagement, opportunity for employment generation and lower maintenance cost, the GSB option with drainage was adopted.

10. Instead of a standard costing, can the costing be based on different needs arising out
of different topography and climatic conditions?
While this is a genuine concern, due to resource constraints, a standard costing is used in the provision of budget for improvement works. In order to adjust to the needs arising out of topography and climatic conditions, flexibility is provided in adjusting the scope of work to cater to local context. Any additional cost will have to be met from the LGs’ RAF-resources.

11. Are the Local Government Administrations allowed to change the approved scope?
The approved scope of activities includes GSB and drainage. However, depending on the geographical conditions, LGs are given flexibility to change scope of works from GSB to soling, blacktopping, rigid/ concrete pavement, etc., and from V-drains to U-shaped drains, French- drains, etc., where GSB or V-drains are technically found to be unfeasible.

12. Are the Local Government Administrations provided with additional budgets to
undertake other permanent structures?
No additional budget is provided to undertake other permanent structures such as retaining walls, culverts, causeways, etc. Any additional costs arising for such works will have to be met from respective RAF resources.

13. What are the monitoring mechanisms in place for improvement of farm roads under
Phase I?
As the implementing agency, LG Administrations are responsible for regular monitoring of the improvement works. Besides, the GNHC also seeks monthly progress reports on the implementation status through the LGs’ planning units. The progress reports are submitted to the Office of the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
Any issues reported or observed in the monthly reporting are immediately addressed. Field monitoring visits are also undertaken by the GNHC or jointly with MoWHS. Through the MoWHS, regional DOR offices have also been requested to provide both technical backstopping as well as conduct quality monitoring of the farm roads.

14. When will the improvement work for farm roads under Phase II be initiated?
The implementation of improvement works under Phase II is contingent on the completion and quality assessment of farm roads completed under Phase I. Further, initiation of improvement work for Phase II farm roads is deferred until the end of monsoon this year, considering that it is not favorable to carry out GSB works during monsoon.
15. Are the Local Government Administrations allowed to construct new farm roads with
the farm road improvement budget?

LGs can only undertake improvement works with the budget provided. While, the prioritization and construction of new farm roads are the prerogative of respective DTs and GTs, LGs are advised to rationalize new constructions based on critical needs at the LGs and avoid random constructions.

16. What are the management plans after the farm roads are improved?
Once the farm roads are approved and implemented, the LGs are mandated to form Farm Road User Groups to monitor the works and carry out maintenance of the farm roads as per the By Laws.