Farm growth rate to hit six-year high of 4.7pc

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu

Jul 10, 2014-

Aided by timely monsoon rains last year, the country’s farm sector is expected to grow at the rate of 4.7 percent (six-year high) in the current fiscal year, but the outlook for the next fiscal year remains poor due to sub-par monsoon forecast.

The Economic Survey 2013-14 tabled by Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat on Thursday at the Parliament states as economic growth largely depends on the growth of farm output, boosting agriculture output and productivity will be a major challenge for the government.

Due to low-investment, the agriculture sector, which contributes one-third to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), has been going through hard times.

The survey said the sector has grown by 3.2 percent annually on an average over the last 10 years.

“Nepal’s economic growth rate is always determined by agriculture, particularly the growth in paddy output,” said agro expert and scientist Bhola Man Singh Basnet.

In 2011-12, paddy production rose by an impressive 13.7 percent, and as a result, the economic growth rate rose to 4.6 percent.

However, in 2012-13, paddy output dropped 11.3 percent, and the economic growth rate slumped to a six-year low of 3.5 percent, the lowest since 2006-07. The agricultural sector grew at a meagre 1.1 percent in 2012-13.

The economic growth is projected to rebound to 5.2 percent this fiscal year on

the agriculture sector recovery. Paddy production is projected to grow at 12 percent this year.

“All these past trends suggest Nepal needs to give special focus on paddy

production and productivity,” Basnet said.

Although, the government has launched various missions like onion, vegetables and fisheries, among others, the mission paddy has not been on the government’s priority, he said, adding the government should carry out two missions — paddy and irrigation — nationwide, if it really wants to boost the rain-fed agriculture economy of Nepal.

The survey showed cereals (paddy, maize, wheat, buckwheat, millet and barley) output jumped 8.45 percent to 9.56 million tonnes this fiscal year due to timely rains, and adequate supply of fertilisers and improved variety of seeds.

Of the total production, the output of summer crops — paddy, maize and buckwheat — is expected to jump 12 percent, 9.8 percent and 2.8 percent, respectively. However, millet production is expected to drop 0.5 percent.

Winter crops — wheat and barley — have shown poor performance. Wheat output is estimated to grow at a meagre 0.05 percent, while barley production is expected to drop 5.8 percent.

As fertiliser shortage was one of the major factors for poor agriculture performance last fiscal year, the survey said the supply of vital farm inputs jumped to 178,000 tonnes last year from 147,000 tonnes.

As of the eighth month of the current fiscal year, imports of chemical fertilisers stood at 134,000 tonnes. The survey said the use of chemical fertilisers increased to 57kg per hectare last year from 47 kg per hectare in the previous year.

Through new irrigation projects, an additional 19,561 hectares of land was irrigated last year.

With this, irrigation coverage has been extended to 1.76 million hectares, out of 2.64 million hectares of arable land. In the first eight months of the fiscal year, 7,948 hectares of land has been irrigated through deep shallow tube-well.

However, experts said round-the-year irrigation facilities are only available for around 20 percent of the arable land, and the government needs to expand ground water irrigation facilities to assure proper irrigation to farmers as weather patterns in Nepal have grown unpredictable.

Farm Growth

FY    Growth

2013-14    4.7%

2012-13    1.1%

2011-12    4.6%

2010-11    4.5%

2009-10    2.0%

2008-09    3.0%

2007-08    5.8%

2006-07    1.0%

2005-06    1.8%

2004-05    3.5%

(Source: Economy Survey)

 

Published: 11-07-2014 09:31

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