Agri offices in East face severe shortage of staff

- Binod Bhandari, Biratnagar
District agri offices have been given the authority to hire at least 732 staff. Of these positions, 181, or 25 percent, are vacant

Feb 23, 2017-Most of the district agricultural offices in hilly areas of the eastern region are facing severe shortage of human resources, preventing delivery of effective and efficient services to those engaged in the agri sector, which accounts for 33 percent of the country’s economic output. 

Sankhuwasabha District Agricultural Office, for instance, requires 17 staff to conduct day-to-day works. But it currently has nine staff members, while eight positions have remained vacant for the last six months.

“Shortage of staff has hit most of the works related to farmers. We also have not been able to conduct inspection and monitoring related works,” Office Chief Ravi Lal Sharma said.

The district agri office currently has to transport seedlings, fertilisers, pesticides and other agricultural inputs from the plains in the south. “But we have not been able to carry out these tasks due to lack of staff,” Sharma said.

Bhojpur District Agricultural Office is facing the same problem. The office has been facing acute shortage of planning officers for the last five months, although the government has allocated two positions for planning officers. “This has affected our works,” Jitendra Yadav, a senior officer at the office, said.

Tehrathum District Agricultural Office, on the other hand, has been facing shortage of 14 staff, including four officer-level employees, while Paanchthar District Agricultural Office, which should have at least six officers, is conducting day-to-day works with only one officer.

“We are now forced to deploy technical assistants to carry out works related to horticulture and planning due to lack of officer-level staff,” said Kamlesh Tiwari, chief of Paanchthar District Agricultural Office.

District agricultural offices in the eastern region have been given the authority to hire at least 732 staff. Of these positions, 181, or 25 percent, are vacant.

“This shortage of human resources has been preventing us from expanding different programmes to targeted groups,” Rajendra Upreti, officiating director at the Regional Agricultural Directorate, said. “We have asked the Department of Agriculture and the Ministry of Agricultural Development to fill these vacant posts numerous times. But our calls haven’t been heard till date.”

Most of eastern region’s district agricultural offices that are facing severe shortage of human resources are located in hilly areas. This has exacerbated the problem, as people in hilly areas, often times, have to walk for several hours to reach the offices, but return empty handed.

“This problem of staff shortage has become even worse since the Prime Minister Agricultural Modernisation Programme was launched, as most of the planning officers and technicians have been deployed to implement the programme,” Upreti said, adding, “It is high time arrangements be made so that every vacant position in agri offices be filled.”

Published: 23-02-2017 10:05

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