Agriculture strategy to be implemented by 2016-17

- Sangam Prasain, Kathmandu

Sep 4, 2015-

The highly anticipated Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS), which is envisaged to transform Nepal’s farm sector in the face of common challenges such as climate change, food price volatility, low productivity and water stress, will be implemented by the next fiscal year 2016-17, the Ministry of Agricultural Development said on Thursday.

Farming, provides employment to 66 percent of the country’s total population and contributes about 33 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), is under stress as a result of under-investment. Agro imports have joined the Rs100 billion club after fuel imports. Shipments are projected to rise in the coming years due to rapidly growing urbanization and an increase in the number of young Nepali migrant workers going abroad.  

As Nepal faces high risks in the future, the ministry said that the much-touted farm blueprint with a 20-year vision and a 10-year planning horizon would play a key role in increasing investment, reducing poverty and growing sufficient food to feed the increasing number of mouths.

The ADS will supersede the existing Agriculture Perspective Plan (1995-2015). It was approved by the Cabinet on July 2.

Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, secretary at the ministry, said they had completed the pre- and post-workout to implement the ADS. “However, the draft needs to be reviewed before it can be implemented,” he said, adding that the baseline date of the ADS was based on 2010-11 and it should be reviewed as per the changing context.

The government has included five new mechanisms in the draft in line with the inputs given by the parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee, farmers and concerned stakeholders, the ministry said.

One of the new mechanisms is the National ADS Implementation Committee that will be chaired by the agriculture minister. Likewise, the vice-chairman of the National Planning Commission will chair the ADS coordination committee and a separate unit will be set up as the ADS implementation support unit.

Likewise, there will be an ADS execution trust fund and a Farmers’ Commission to ensure that the plan and programmes in the document are executed and monitored well.

The proposed draft has recommended spending Rs502 billion in 10 years, or around Rs50 billion annually, including 11 percent contributions from the private sector and donors. “The ADS programmes will be executed with the combined budget of the agriculture and the irrigation ministries,” said Bhattarai.

He said that the combined budget of the Agriculture and Irrigation ministries for this fiscal year was Rs47 billion, and hence there would not be a dearth in the envisaged budget to implement the ADS.   

The ADS has targeted boosting the average annual growth rate to 5 percent from the present 3 percent for the agricultural sector, and increase land productivity to $5,000 per hectare from the current $1,600.

It also aims to increase labour productivity to $2,000 from $800 per worker. Likewise, exports of farm items have been targeted to increase to $1.6 billion from $250 million through the implementation of the ADS.

The document has envisaged increasing round-the-year irrigation coverage areas to 80 percent from the current 18 percent. One of its ambitious targets is to halve poverty in less than 10 years through an agriculture-led economy.

On July 1, 2013, the ADS formulating team submitted a draft to the government. The document cost Rs200 million and took 26 months to complete.

Published: 04-09-2015 09:06

More on this story

KATHMANDU: The consumption of milk and other dairy products has dropped after the earthquake, leaving the country with a daily surplus of 30,000 litres of milk, the Ministry of Agricultural Development said Thursday. As the glut is expected to swell and dairy producers have expressed grave concern over the future of their occupation, the ministry has started looking for ways to export milk and dairy products. According to state-owned Dairy Development Corporation (DDC), milk sales were recorded at 150,000 litres before the earthquake. DDC said that a mass departure of people from the Kathmandu valley led to sales falling sharply. However, sales have not returned to previous levels even four months after the earthquake which has spread concern among dairy producers.

The ministry said that the Customs Department had hiked import duty on dairy products to 20 percent. “As the duty is not high enough to stop imports, we have asked that it be hiked further,” said Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, secretary at the ministry.
The slump in demand for fresh milk has prompted DDC and other dairy producers to make powdered milk, ghee and butter from the unsold
stocks. In a number of places, irate farmers have started dumping milk on the streets to protest against the government’s inability to buy their products. (PR)

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