Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development Padma Aryal has said that foreign direct investment (FDI) should be made in the agricultural sector without harming the farmers.

Speaking during an interaction programme on the current issues for agricultural development organised by the Food for Agriculture Campaign today, Minister Aryal said that large investment is needed for the development of the country's agricultural sector.

The government had opened up foreign investment in the agricultural sector by amending the Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer Act. Entrepreneurs associated with agriculture, however, have been protesting against this move of the government. But despite the protests, the government has said it will allow foreign investment in the sector.

Stating that the government has not been able to make necessary investment for the development of agriculture, she said that foreign investment should be attracted.

"There are several sectors where we are not being able to invest. So, we have to bring in FDI after identifying such sectors," she said, adding, "Let's develop the agricultural sector by attracting foreign investment, but while ensuring protection to our smallholder farmers."

She further laid emphasis on collaborations to study areas, challenges and benefits of FDI in agro sector, so that such investments could benefit the agriculture sector.

"The government is still to prepare a framework for FDI in agriculture sector. We can work together on how to bring and implement FDI in agricultural sector of the country," she said.

She further said the foreign investment should be allowed only if protection of small farmers of the country can be ensured. If the FDI is not harming the local agriculture business, it should be allowed, she opined, adding, "It will also help to increase competition in the country, which in turn will help to grow the agricultural business."

A version of this article appears in the print on March 23, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.