Round-the-year irrigation in Tarai in five years

- SANGAM PRASAIN, Kathmandu
Round-the-year irrigation in Tarai in five years

Jul 14, 2015-

The government has set an ambitious goal of offering round-the-year irrigation facility in the Tarai/Madesh region in the next five years. Currently, only 18 percent of the total agriculture land has round-the-year irrigation.

The budget for 2015-16 unveiled on Tuesday has laid emphasis on constructing mega irrigation projects to irrigate all the Tarai’s fertile land and promote deep tube-wells and other means of water resources.

Agro expert Hari Dahal said the government’s target to extend round-the-year irrigation in Tarai/Madesh region is ambitious. “Even to extend seasonal irrigation in all arable land will take at least 10 years. So the goal is unattainable.”

The Ministry of Irrigation has received a budget of Rs20.22 billion for the next fiscal year. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agricultural Development’s allocation stood at Rs26.68 billion—3.17 percent of the total budget.

According to the government’s plan, the Sunsari-Morang Irrigation Project will be operated in full swing, while other under-construction projects will be completed in the stipulated time.

Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat, presenting the annual budget on Tuesday, said the government plans to set up 48 deep tube-wells in Tarai/Madesh in the next fiscal year. The budget has allocated Rs3.76 billion to continue the construction of Sikta, Rani-Jamara Jamara-Kulariya and Babai irrigation projects.

The budget has set aside Rs520 million to carry out repair work on damaged infrastructure. “By repairing irrigation projects and promoting ground water and surface irrigation, irrigation coverage will be extended on an additional 28,300 hectares by the next fiscal year,” Mahat said.

For a medium-scale irrigation project, the government has allocated Rs3.04 billion.

The government launched the first paddy mission aimed at boosting output and productivity to feed the growing population. The three-year mission has set a target of becoming self-reliant in rice and being in a position to export paddy by the end of the scheme. The mission will cover 670,000 hectares in 12 Tarai districts. The government plans to establish agriculture centre in each Tarai district.

Dahal said in the context of growing imports of rice, the mission to boost output is a welcome move. He, however, said the government’s subsidy should focus on targeted groups. “Around 80 percent subsidy provided in agriculture, particularly in chemical fertilisers, goes to medium and big farmers.”

The budget has announced various subsidy schemes to encourage farmers. To promote lift irrigation system, the government would provide 50 percent subsidy for those applying the system to irrigate at least 50 hectares through renewable energy. Subsidy will be provided in renewable energy too.

Mahat said the government would set up 7,100 shallow tube-wells in commercial agriculture and commercial vegetable pocket areas.   

The government has allocated funds to appoint one agro or veterinary technician in each village development committee. The government plans to promote mobile phone to help farmers to keep them connected to agricultural services and information. For agriculture research, the government has set aside Rs2.08 billion.

For the construction of rural agriculture roads and bridge construction, the government has allocated Rs15.25 billion. As electricity plays a key role in boosting farmer’s production, the government has allocated Rs2 billion for rural electrification. It has set aside Rs6.10 billion for subsidy in seeds and chemical fertilisers.  

The government plans to commercialise the fishery sector. It has targeted producing an additional 6,000 tonnes fish and fish pond in additional 1,000 hectares. For this scheme, Rs370 million has been allocated.

To promote farm mechanisation, the government has announced waiving customs tax and VAT on the import of tractor, power tiller and wheat thresher.

Published: 15-07-2015 08:23

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