Kathmandu, May 28
As the supply side constraints are considered the major cause for increasing import of agricultural products, the government has announced various programmes to boost agricultural productivity of the country in fiscal budget 2016-17.
Along with production capacity enhancement programme, the fiscal budget has laid emphasis on value chain development of agriculture products, food and nutrition security, agriculture extension service and agriculture research and technology.
Presenting the fiscal budget in the Parliament today, Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel announced Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation project, which is aimed at making the country self-reliant in agricultural products.
Though two-third of the country’s workforce is engaged in the agriculture sector, the sector’s contribution in the economy has been gradually coming down.
The government has announced huge grant and subsidy to make the country self-reliant in agriculture products by boosting productivity.
The government has announced 85 per cent cash grant to purchase agriculture inputs for farms in special pocket areas that run specialised programmes and similar amount for collection centres of agriculture products, community seed banks, post-harvest centres and training centres.
Similarly, the budget has announced 50 per cent cash grant for establishment of processing centres, warehouses, agriculture marts and cold storage facilities.
The government has announced that 2,100 pocket areas, blocks and zones would be developed across the country, including 600 along the Postal Highway, 200 along the Mid-hill Highway and their feeder road sections, to enhance agriculture production. Such areas will be spread over at least 10 hectares of land.
The government has also announced 50 per cent cash grant for tissue culture laboratory of crops like bananas, potatoes, among others and also for fish farming.
Farmers will be able to take agriculture loans from banks at interest rate not exceeding five per cent from next fiscal, according to Finance Minister Paudel.
“This budget has lowered the interest rate by one percentage point from the earlier provision.” Cheaper credit and insurance is further expected to boost agriculture production.
“The government will extend 75 per cent premium subsidy to the farmers for agriculture, livestock and fowl insurance.” On the other hand, the government has said that it will promote production-based insurance scheme to minimise the risk borne by farmers.
The government has also announced that only one per cent customs tariff will be levied on the import of agriculture inputs and would fix support price of paddy, wheat, maize and sugarcane before the plantation season.
The land owners who leave their arable land barren would be penalised 25 per cent of the potential production of the land.
The government has aimed to make the country self-reliant on wheat and vegetables within a year and gradually make the country self-reliant on rice and potatoes; maize and fish; bananas, papayas and litchis every other year starting from fiscal 2016-17.
The plan is to make the country self-reliant on kiwis, apples, oranges, sweet oranges and mangoes within the next 10 years.
The government has expected additional contribution from the agriculture sector worth Rs 30 billion in the gross domestic product in the next fiscal, 2016-17.