Agriculture stays on govt backburner

Kathmandu, November 22:

The outcome of the 10-year old Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) floated by the government has not been satisfactory due primarily to weak institutional mechanism and inadequate resources.

Even after 10 years of APP, experts at a programme entitled ‘APP: From Vision to Action’ organised by the National Planning Commission (NPC) and the World Bank pointed out at the lack of coordination between concerned institutions and absence of incentives to farmers, including matching grants.

Dr Ram Sharan Mahat, finance minister, while speaking at the function today admitted that the country has not been able to revolutionise or accelerate economic growth. He singled out inefficiency as the reason for the lack of growth in the agriculture sector and for low economic growth.

He alos underlined the fact that agro-goods constitute 17 per cent of all exportable goods from Nepal. “Things are improving by the day”, added Dr Mahat.

He said that the government must provide better infrastructure such as expansion of roads, marketing networks and better policy environment to boost agriculture.

Dr Kenichi Ohashi, country director at the World Bank Nepal office, categorically stated that APP failed to work basically due to weak institutional mechanisms and insufficient resources. Therefore, there is a need to provide incentives for institutions for implementing APP, by generating matching funds and creating market infrastructures.

Prof John W Mellor, president of John Mellor Associate, Washington DC, speaking at the function said that APP was continuously guided by three principles such as the necessity of growth in the agricultural sector, the primary multipliers to the rural non-farm sector as the prime reducer of poverty and the necessity of a very small set off initial priorities and sequencing of requirements in view of very limited implementation capacity.

Mellor, the architect of APP, said that the focus of APP is on growth of rural incomes which are so low in Nepal. Generating rural income is vital to meet social objectives.

Dr Dilli Raj Khanal, economist and lawmaker of CPN (UML), commented that Nepal failed to implement APP due to lack of sound policies. He suggested a thorough review of APP and undertake effective implementation in partnership with local users to ensure sound results.

He talked about a lack of mechanism to reach out to the users’ level and make farmers more productive through the adoption of modernised agricultural inputs and developed seeds in a changed market environment.

Dr Prakash Chandra Lohani, former finance minister, also admitted that the APP implementation has been quite weak and the agriculture ministry has not been a priority espite agriculture’s contribution to the national economy. He urged for effective market mechanisms and a better delivery system to promote agro-products.