House committee okays 20-year agriculture strategy

House committee okays 20-year agriculture strategy

Jun 12, 2015-

The parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee has cleared the way for the Ministry of Agricultural Development to implement the ambitious Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS). 

The panelís go-ahead comes after nine months of extensive discussions on the countryís new farm blue print with various experts and stakeholders. 

In a 10-point set of suggestions, the committee has directed the ministry to make a mandatory provision of providing loans against projects and collateral by allocating 50 percent weightage to each. 

It has also instructed the government to simplify the process of releasing loans and subsidies to farmers. 

Likewise, the parliamentary committee has told the government to include food sovereignty as one of its objectives and put in place policy and programmes to make this happen. The strategic document, which incorporates a 20-year vision and a 10-year planning horizon for the countryís farm sector, is expected to be tabled at the Cabinet soon. 

ìA draft strategy has been finalized by inserting the inputs given by the parliamentary committee, and we are all set to table it at the Cabinet soon,î said Uday Chandra Thakur, spokesperson of the ministry. 

However, the ministry needs to ensure funding as envisaged by the draft policy to implement the ADS, he said. The proposed draft has recommended spending Rs502 billion in 10 years, or around Rs50 billion annually, including contributions from the private sector and donors.

ìAs donors have pledged to make significant investments in Nepalís farm sector once the ADS is approved, we also need to ensure sufficient budget to implement it,î Thakur said. ìThe draft will be fully implemented once the resources are arranged.î 

Last November, the donors engaged in drafting the ADS had pledged to make large investments in Nepalís farm sector, with the Asian Development Bank (ADB) unveiling a scheme to support Nepal jointly with other donors with an outlay of Rs20 billion in next fiscal year to transform the agricultural sector. The parliamentary committee has also asked the ministry to clarify how the donor money will be utilized and what the priority areas are. 

ìAs the role of the Finance Ministry will be crucial in managing the budget, it should be included as a key actor to implement the ADS,î the committee said in a statement. Since Nepal is set to be divided into federal states, the committee has asked the Agricultural Ministry to explain how the ADS will be implemented then. 

It has also directed the government to make the proposed ADS Trust transparent and ensure a system under which the trust fund will be spent to increase farm productivity and commercialization. 

Similarly, the committee has suggested creating a provision to incorporate agricultural literacy programmes in schools. 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.

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.

The National Planning Commission has said that the ADS will help the governmentís goal to graduate from the current status of a least developed country to a developing country by 2022, and so the document needs to be implemented wisely.

Published: 13-06-2015 09:10

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