Himalayan News Service
KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative (MoAC) has prepared two ambitious projects for the agriculture sector with a view to bringing spotlight on cash crops. For this, the government is planning to involve private sector and set up collection centres near the farms in far away and inaccessible places.
The ministry is also mulling to make available better farming techniques, improved quality of seeds, and other necessary support so that cash crops occupy an important place in the agriculture sector, the largest contributor to the nation’s GDP.
The two projects — Projects for Agriculture Commercialisation and Trade (PACT), and High Value Agriculture Project (HVAP) — will be taken up in financial year 2010-11. The ministry has already allocated Rs 614.1 million for PACT and Rs 650 million for HVAP.
PACT targets to enhance quality of such farm produce, which has export-potential, a senior economist in the ministry said. Under the scheme farm produce such as tea, cardamom, ginger, fruits such as oranges and mangoes among others will be processed to make them export-worthy. The project will be implemented in 25 districts in the country.
HVAP will be implemented in 10 districts of the central development region, where the programme will focus on providing better marketing avenues for agriculture products. HVAP will take off in January 2011 with a World Bank loan.
Apart from these two ambitious projects, the ministry is also developing three projects –– High Mountain Agriculture Business and Livelihood Improvement Project, Crop Diversification and Commercialisation Project, and Food Security Programme, to expand the market of agricultural products.
These projects will be included in the MoAC project list from 2011-12, a ministry official said. The ministry is mulling food security programme with help from USAID.
It is in the designing phase, he said. USAID is providing a grant of Rs 60.9 million for the programme that aims to enhance quality of seeds, promotion of hybrid animals, and preservation of traditional Nepali seeds.
MoAC has prepared Rs 11.28 billion budget for next financial year, which is 27 per cent more than Rs 9.96 billion ceiling provided by the National Planning Commission (NPC). Under the proposed budget for the next financial year, Department of Agriculture, Department of Veterinary, and Department of Cooperative has got Rs 3.44 billion, Rs 2.19 billion and Rs 382 million respectively. The Ministry’s budget for the current financial year is Rs 7.87 billion.
More subsidy on fertilisers
KATHMANDU: Even though the paddy season has begun, farmers are facing an acute shortage of chemical fertilisers in the country. The ministry has increased subsidy for fertilisers for the next financial year. Rs 2.30 billion has been allocated to subsidise around 1,50,000 tonnes of fertilisers. A minuscule Rs 50-60 million will go as subsidy for bio fertilisers and the remaining amount will be spent to subsidise chemical fertilisers. In the current financial year, fertiliser subsidy is at Rs 1.55 billion which targets to distribute 1,00,000 tonnes fertiliser to farmers. The country’s current fertiliser demand is around 3,00,000 tonnes.