Kathmandu, September 5 With an ambitious plan of spending Rs 501.8 billion within 10 years, the government is preparing to implement Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) from fiscal 2016-17. The ADS is a 20-year vision document with the first 10-year action plan prepared by the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) in cooperation with 13 development partners. The MoAD has said that it is currently focusing on preliminary and preparatory works to implement the ADS from next fiscal. ADS will guide the agriculture sector’s programme from next year. “We will design the programme for the budget based on the guiding principles of ADS from next fiscal,” said Uttam Kumar Bhattarai, secretary of MoAD, adding, “The major focus of ADS is to promote agricultural entrepreneurship.” He believes that ADS will change the landscape of Nepali agriculture through commercialisation and value chain development. The ADS does not allow foreign direct investment (FDI) in primary production. However, it welcomes FDI in agro processing, value addition, branding and marketing of agro products. “There are lots of prospects for foreign investors to invest in agro processing, branding and marketing of Nepali agro products,” said Bhattarai, “FDI has not been permitted in primary production to protect the small farmers of the country, and the ADS has prioritised to include them in value chain process to uplift the subsistence farmers.” ADS will also promote high value crops and niche market products. Poverty alleviation is also one of the primary objectives of ADS. It aims to reduce rural poverty to below 10 per cent. It has also opened the door for the Nepali private sector in contract farming and commercial farming. Under the flagship programme, MoAD will implement food and nutrition safety programme; agriculture education, technology transfer and agriculture extension services; value chain development programme and promotion of agricultural entrepreneurship. ADS has envisioned the agriculture minister-led National ADS Coordination Committee to monitor and guide the ADS implementation, ADS implementation pool fund which will pool resources from development partners to implement the strategy, and forming Farmers’ Commission to address the grievances of farmers. Of the total Rs 501.8 billion expected expenditure on agriculture sector within the next 10 years, MoAD aims to mobilise 89 per cent of the amount from the government and development partners and the rest from the private sector and farmers. ADS targets to expand irrigation facility to up to 80 per cent of arable land, expand access of farmers in agriculture programme, increase agriculture gross domestic product growth to more than six per cent, and increase the annual export of agricultural product to $690 million, among others, till the concluding year of ADS implementation. The Cabinet recently approved the ADS after a series of interactions were held by the parliamentary committees and other stakeholders. The government, however, has not properly assessed the Agriculture Perspective Plan (1995-2015) that aimed to develop and expand improved irrigation system, mechanisation of agriculture and penetration of agriculture extension service. Only 30 per cent of the total cultivation area has been covered with irrigation facility till date.