Commercialise agriculture

Agriculture is Nepal’s strength. It contributes approximately 40 per cent to our total GDP but as its growth is stifled this contribution is eroding. Consensus prevails that commercialisation of farming can revive agricultural sectors. The 2065-66 budget should take steps to commercialise agricultural sectors:

• Allocate enough for irrigation

• Provide electricity to farmers at night at half the current rate.

• Instal electrical distribution hubs for agricultural purposes.

• Subsidise ‘deep tube-wells’ and community ponds for irrigation.

• Set up modern warehouses

and marketing facilities for wholesale cash crops.

• Incentives for private investments in modern warehouses and marketing facilities and the lending by banks against the depository sli-ps issued by recognised warehouses.

• Government should create buffer stocks of grains and fertilisers at different locations.

• Agriculture development surcharge be reduced to five per cent and ultimately phased out over the next two years. It should not be levied if the agricultural product

is imported by industry for its own use as raw materials.

• Announce minimum support price for selected food grains.

Government should set up an institutional platform where all stakeholders, farmers, entrepreneurs and government personnel can work together. The symbiotic relationship among stakeholders has to be protected by a suitable Act.

Food crisis is going to aggravate. Prices of fertilisers will skyrocket and supply will get limited. Government has to focus not only on alternative fertilisers but also efficient use of fertilisers and fertiliser production domestically.

Areas under tea plantation need to be doubled and extended to other hilly regions in the next five years. Reforms needed are modernisation, consolidation and identity of Nepali tea in the international market.

Government can declare tea plantation areas as SEZs and provide incentive packages as per SEZ for their modernisation and consolidation.

Subsidy can be given for developing international packaging and FDI allowed in promoting, selling and distributing Nepali tea in the international market.

Similarly, private sector can

provide the following in agricultural development:

• Appropriate technology — pre and post-harvest.

• Market linkage to industrial production.

• Improved seeds.

• Fertiliser at affordable prices.

• Technology for efficient use of water.

• Financial support.

• Market information.