House panel recommends inputs for ADS

KATHMANDU: As the government is preparing to introduce Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) from coming fiscal 2015-16, the Agriculture and Water Resource Committee of the legislature-parliament has recommended some necessary inputs for a comprehensive document.

ADS is a 20-year vision document for development of agriculture sector, along with a 10-year action plan.

The parliamentary panel has pointed that the government should extend preferential treatment for small farmers to make them self-reliant in food production and promote collective and cooperative farming so that this section of population can be linked in the value chain.

The parliamentary panel has proposed the ‘Kisan Credit Card’ scheme so that the government can effectively deliver facility of agro loans to the farmers. So far, government’s efforts to extend interest rate subsidy and subsidy in insurance premium have not generated desired results due to lengthy procedures. With the new scheme, the farmers would be able to easily borrow from the local banks and financial institutions (BFIs) and the government could disburse the interest to BFIs.

The parliamentary panel has also recommended the government to promote commercial farming for products with comparative and competitive advantages. “The government can address the need of agriculture entrepreneurs through different policy measures and adequate infrastructure — access roads, irrigation facilities, agricultural inputs (quality seeds, fertilisers, machineries), and agriculture extension services,” as per the panel report that was recently forwarded to the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD). Market promotion of niche products, certain level of tax exemption are recommended for the promotion of commercial agriculture.

As the ADS has envisaged attracting investment of around Rs 50 billion in agriculture sector (including agro processing) annually, the parliamentary committee has suggested specifying the role of Ministry of Finance as a key actor along with MoAD, so that, resource generation and mobilisation can be ensured.

For the market promotion of the niche products, the role of the Ministry of Commerce and Supplies should be also specified, says the report. In this regard, ADS should envisage the mechanism, which can create the ownership of concerned ministries and agencies for its effective implementation. Subsequently, it is also suggested to envisage the effective monitoring mechanism.

The report has also stressed on the inter-relation between forest and agriculture, and recommended promotion of non-timbre forest products (NTFPs) as agriculture commodities. In this regard, the panel has urged cultivation of medicinal herbs, some high value fruits, which are often neglected by the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation and also by the MoAD.

Most importantly, the report highlights that the ADS has overlooked the adverse effects of climate change in agriculture and recommended to incorporate necessary measures for building resilience of vulnerable small farmers.

Rajendra Prasad Adhikary, joint secretary of the MoAD, has informed that the ministry will quickly send the document for the Cabinets’ approval by incorporating the recommendation of the parliamentary panel

ADS, developed in cooperation of major development partners, has envisaged annual growth target of more than five per cent in agriculture once it is implemented.