HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Nepal’s weak food security situation is directly associated with poor investment in the agriculture sector. The country ranks second from bottom in the region when it comes to investment in agriculture sector.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture Development, the country invests just Rs 2,291 in a hectare of agriculture land, while neighbouring India has been investing Rs 3,555 in one hectare, to provide irrigation, seeds and fertilisers. However, Pakistan
has the lowest investment of Rs 691 per hectare.
Our investment in agriculture is low, hence it cannot guarantee food security, said secretary at the ministry Dr Ganesh Raj Joshi.
“Investment must be increased to commercialise the sector and ensure food for all,” he said, adding that the government is working to
increase the budget for the agriculture sector.
The country had about 4.21 million hectares of arable land and an investment of about Rs 9.34 billion in agriculture in fiscal year 2010-11.
The country’s agriculture budget was about 3.22 per cent of the national budget last year. Prime minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has promised to increase the budget to five per cent in the next fiscal year.
Low investment in the agriculture sector has reduced the productivity of land in
the country. There is no irrigation facility in two-thirds of arable land, use of fertilisers is low, and there is a shortage of improved seeds.
The average production of paddy in one hectare is 2.99 metric tonnes. The situation is similar with other crops.
Sri Lanka has the highest investment in agriculture with Rs 13,178 being invested per hectare. The country has been using around Rs 34.79 billion for 2.64 million hectares of land. Bangladesh has been investing around Rs 7,842 in one hectare.
Despite the low investment, the country had produced about 9.2 million metric tonnes of crops in fiscal year 2011-12. Paddy, which is the major crop of the country, had contributed around 5.07 million metric tonnes to total output due to favourable monsoon last year.