AWRC to ask govt about ambitious farm strategy

- POST REPORT, Kathmandu

Sep 2, 2014-

The parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee (AWRC) has said that it will ask the government to provide rational bases of commitment and resources to meet the ambitious target set in the draft Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS).

The strategy, prepared with technical support from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other development partners, has envisioned an ambitious growth pattern in output and land and labour productivity for the next 20 years.  

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. It has recommended a spending of Rs 502 billion in 10 years, or around Rs 50 billion annually.

“We have invited the National Planning Commission and the ministries of Finance and Agricultural Development to a meeting on Sunday explain the government’s ‘rational’ bases of commitment and mobilization of resources to meet the target as envisioned by the draft,” said Gagan Thapa, chairman of the AWRC.  

“If needed, we will even invite the donor agencies who were engaged in preparing the draft to explain their promised commitment to Nepal’s agro sector.”

There are diverse views among lawmakers about whether the government should allow foreign capital or not or permit it partially in the farm sector, and the conclusion is most likely to be as envisaged by the draft, added Thapa.

The final draft of the ADS which the Agriculture Ministry is preparing to send to the Cabinet for its approval has barred foreign investment and land ownership in primary farm production. There will also be no modification to the draft plan that has restricted cultivation of genetically modified organism (GMO) to research purposes.

“The parliamentary committee’s task is to see whether the fundamental issues contained in the policy draft are favourable to the country or not,” said Thapa. Once the parliamentary panel endorses the draft, it will be easier for the government to own it, he added.

Two weeks ago, the AWRC had asked the ministry to submit a copy of the final draft for a study. Thapa said that copies of the draft had been distributed to all the committee members, and that it would take at least a week for them to provide feedback and recommendations.

The ADS, which will replace the existing Agricultural Perspective Plan 1995-2015 (APP), has been prepared with a 20-year vision and a 10-year planning horizon. The project will involve 13 development partners and is likely to be implemented by the start of 2015.


Published: 03-09-2014 09:32

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