Govt announces Rs1.25b aid for flood-hit farmers

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Aug 28, 2017-

The government on Sunday announced a Rs1.25-billion relief scheme for farmers in 30 districts who lost their crops to the recent floods.

This is the highest ever aid package given to farmers. The plan is subject to approval by the National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Finance.

“The assistance will be issued in the form of immediate cash grants and subsidies on agricultural inputs,” said Suroj Pokhrel, secretary at the Ministry of Agricultural Development. “The money will be transferred directly to the bank accounts of farmers who have suffered losses,” he said. “It will make the distribution system transparent and benefit the target group.”

He added that the grants would be distributed through the District Disaster Relief Committees led by the respective CDOs after assessing the number of farmers affected by the floods. 

“Providing relief is the government’s duty. Relief is also the lawful right of the farmers,” said Agriculture Minister Ram Krishna Yadav. 

The country suffered record floods following torrential rain from August 11-14 that killed 157 people and left 31 districts awash in water. Nearly 43,406 houses were completely destroyed and thousands more partially damaged, the ministry said.  

On Sunday, the ministry drastically revised crop losses. “We have prepared the final report. Total losses in the farm sector have been assessed at Rs5.84 billion,” said Yogendra Kumar Karki, spokesperson for the ministry. 

A preliminary report had shown that floodwaters had wiped out Rs8.11 billion worth of crops, excluding livestock and private food stores swept away by the surging water. 

The revised statistics show that 140,464 hectares of standing crops of paddy, maize, pulses, banana and spices were affected by the flood while 37,757 hectares of standing crops suffered severe damage. Likewise, fishes on 2,582 hectares were swept away.

The paddy crop suffered the most with damage amounting to Rs1.72 billion, followed by fisheries (Rs1.54 billion) and vegetables (Rs1.28 billion).

Under the proposed aid scheme, the ministry has set aside Rs213.5 million, the largest chunk of the budget, to distribute urea fertilizer for top dressing of the paddy crop in flood-hit areas. The first top dressing with urea should be done three weeks after paddy is transplanted. 

“The government will provide free urea to the affected farmers in 18 districts through Agriculture Inputs Company,” said Karki. More than 15,000 tonnes of urea will be distributed under the scheme. Likewise, Rs175 million has been allocated for the distribution of compost manure. 

The ministry has allocated Rs126 million for the construction of market infrastructure in 17 districts. Similarly, Rs67.2 million has been allocated for distributing soil conditioner in 18 districts. Wheat seeds worth Rs44.8 million will be distributed in 14 districts.  The ministry said subsidies totalling Rs108 million have been earmarked for the construction of green houses with irrigation facilities. More than 16.6 million fingerlings worth Rs107 million will be distributed to the farmers under the scheme, while the ministry has allocated Rs66.7 million for the construction of fish ponds in 13 districts. 

The ministry said that it would make efforts to make crop insurance more effective to reduce the burden on government finances while issuing relief packages annually.

Published: 28-08-2017 08:01

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