Government set to streamline agro subsidy distribution

Kathmandu, January 29

The government is set to classify farmers on the basis of their income in a bid to streamline the government’s subsidy programmes for farmers.

The Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) is preparing a ‘Farmer Classification and Security Scheme’ whereby domestic farmers are expected to be classified into five broad categories based on their annual income. Currently, MoAD has forwarded the draft of the Farmer Classification and Security Scheme to different ministries for feedback.

“We realised that distributing agriculture subsidy to farmers under a common framework is not practical. Classifying farmers on the basis of their annual income will determine their contribution in the agriculture sector of the country,” said Suroj Pokhrel, secretary of MoAD. As different groups of farmers require different types of support from the government, categorising farmers will help the government to cater subsidy and other schemes as per their need, according to him.

The initial draft of the Farmer Classification and Security Scheme has identified farmers with an annual income of below Rs 200,000 as ‘marginalised farmers’ and those whose annual income ranges between Rs 200,000 and Rs one million as ‘small farmers’. Similarly, farmers with income of Rs one million to Rs three million have been categorised as ‘medium-scale farmers’ and those whose income ranges from Rs three million to Rs five million have been classified as ‘large farmers’. Farmers earning more than Rs five million in a year will be recognised as ‘industry’. However, Pokhrel says that this may not be the final categorisation as MoAD is yet to receive feedback on the draft from the stakeholders.

MoAD also plans to begin fully implementing its ID card distribution system to farmers only after categorising the farmers. Though MoAD had announced it would issue ID cards to farmers to increase their access to agricultural services two years back, project has not been implemented fully. MoAD has distributed such cards to farmers of only seven districts till date.

Initially, the government had planned to incentivise and facilitate farmers having such cards on taxes, agricultural equipment and fertilisers.

“Once we finalise the Farmer Classification and Security Scheme and classify farmers, we are planning to distribute ID cards to them on the basis of the category they fall in,” Pokhrel said, adding that ID card distribution to farmers will be then taken to all districts effectively.

He believes that classification of farmers would also help to know the existing problems in the agriculture industry of the country and contribution of farmers in the sector.