Flood-hit farmers to get relief money before Dashain

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Sep 20, 2017-

The government has planned to distribute relief money to farmers in the 30 districts where crops were destroyed by the August floods before the Dashain festival which begins next week.

Last month, the Ministry of Agricultural Development had announced the highest ever Rs1.25-billion aid package for farmers to be distributed immediately. However, the Finance Ministry turned down the proposal saying that it needed the approval of the Election Commission (EC) as the election code of conduct forbids distributing relief money during election season.

“We received the EC’s okay on Monday to distribute the relief money to the farmers,” said Shankar Sapkota, deputy spokesperson for the Agricultural Ministry. “The approval letter was forwarded to the Finance Ministry the same day.”

Sapkota said that they planned to distribute the relief money before Dashain. “The Finance Ministry will send the money to the district agricultural offices, and it will be distributed as per the package prepared by the Agricultural Ministry,” said Sapkota.

The aid package is in the form of immediate cash grants and subsidies on agricultural inputs. The ministry said that the money will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of farmers who have lost their crops.

The grants will be distributed through the District Disaster Relief Committees led by the respective chief district officers after assessing the number of farmers affected by the floods.

The country suffered record floods following torrential rain from August 11-14 that killed 157 people and left 31 districts awash in water. Nearly 43,406 houses were completely destroyed and thousands more partially damaged, the ministry said.  Total losses in the farm sector had been assessed at Rs5.84 billion.

The ministry’s statistics showed that 140,464 hectares of standing crops of paddy, maize, pulses, banana and spices were affected by the flood while 37,757 hectares of standing crops suffered severe damage. Likewise, fishes on 2,582 hectares were swept away.

The paddy crop suffered the most with damage amounting to Rs1.72 billion, followed by fisheries (Rs1.54 billion) and vegetables (Rs1.28 billion).

Under the proposed aid scheme, the ministry has set aside Rs213.5 million, the largest chunk of the budget, to distribute urea fertilizer for top dressing of the paddy crop in flood-hit areas. The first top dressing with urea needs be done three weeks after paddy is transplanted.

The government will provide free urea to the affected farmers in 18 districts through Agriculture Inputs Company. More than 15,000 tonnes of urea will be distributed under the scheme. Likewise, Rs175 million has been allocated for the distribution of compost manure.

The ministry has allocated Rs126 million for the construction of market infrastructure in 17 districts. Similarly, Rs67.2 million has been allocated for distributing soil conditioner in 18 districts.

Wheat seeds worth Rs44.8 million will be distributed in 14 districts. Subsidies totalling Rs108 million have been earmarked for the construction of greenhouses with irrigation facilities, the ministry said.

More than 16.6 million fingerlings worth Rs107 million will be distributed to the farmers under the scheme, while the ministry has allocated Rs66.7 million for the construction of fish ponds in 13 districts.

Published: 20-09-2017 08:39

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