AgriMin says progress depends on farming

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu
AgriMin says progress depends on farming

May 8, 2014-

With the government announcing that the country would be promoted to developing country status by 2022, the Ministry of Agricultural Development has said that it will depend on the prospects of agricultural growth that employs more than 66 percent of the population.

Addressing the 23rd anniversary of the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (Narc), Jaya Mukunda Khanal, secretary of the ministry, said that meeting the goal would be a huge challenge for the government.

“Ultimately, the goal will depend on how the agriculture sector performs,” he said, adding that to meet this challenge, the government had accorded priority to the farm sector. He said that the government was mulling providing incentives to agro scientists in a bid to retain them in the country and make them more productive. Currently, there are 279 agro scientists at Narc, which is half of the required number.

Agriculture Minister Hari Prasad Parajuli asked the scientists to be loyal to the country and develop new varieties of crops as per demand of the times.

He said that the share of the agricultural budget was just 4.8 percent of the national budget, a meagre allocation to a sector that contributes one-third of the country’s total GDP. “The agriculture sector is still not a prioritized sector.” He, however, said that the ministry was committed to directing a major portion of the funds to farmer-friendly technology and inputs.    

He alleged that Nepal had been influenced by donors, and the policy formulated by them was fulfilling their needs more than the country’s.

Meanwhile, Narc said that it had released and recommended five paddy varieties this year that are tolerant to extreme climatic stress like drought and flood and also pests as part of its programme to ensure food security. Dil Bahadur Gurung, executive director of Narc, said that three types of paddy-Sukhha Dhan 4 and Sukhha Dhan 5-can withstand drought while Sukhha Dhan 6 can tolerate drought and even re-grow after being submerged.

They have been recommended for the Tarai, inner Tarai and river basin areas. Likewise, Narc has recommended releasing two new paddy types-Lekali and Lekali 1-for the hill region that have higher yields and are tolerant to diseases like blast.  

Narc, which has been entrusted with the task of conducting agricultural research, has recommended releasing the pest resistant UG 99 Danfe variety of wheat for the hill region and NL 1073 for the Tarai and hills.

Narc said that it had recommended releasing Khumaltar Hybrid 2 varieties of maize while three new varieties of maize developed for Karnali have also been recommended for release soon.

These three types-Karnali 2 and Arun 2 and 3-mature fast compared to other maize varieties. Likewise, it has recommended releasing two daduwa (blight) disease-resistant potato, namely Khumal Upahar and Khumal Ujjwal.

According to Gurung, Narc has also developed production technologies for different wild edible mushrooms.

Narc is constructing a base collection room at its gene bank for sustainable preservation of seeds for 50 to 100 years. Gurung said that Narc had produced and distributed 1,009 tonnes of foundation seeds in the last fiscal year, and had targeted producing 947 tonnes this fiscal.

Published: 09-05-2014 08:43

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