NARC asks for Rs 495 million budget for itself

Kathmandu, July 6:

Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) proposed a Rs 495 million budget to conduct agriculture research and other NARC activities for the fiscal year 2007-08.

According to Dr Hira Kaji Manandhar, chief of planning division at NARC, the proposed budget is meant to be used primarily under four heads, namely NARC’s usual activities, establishment of a deemed university, gene bank and agriculture museum.

He said, “We have proposed Rs 450 million for NARC usual activities, Rs 15 million for the gene bank, Rs 5 million each for the deemed university and agriculture museum to the ministry of agriculture and cooperatives.”

“The budget allotted for the gene bank is for preliminary activities, especially for setting up infrastructure,” he said, adding that the gene bank was a must to preserve the seeds of different crops, which are about to vanish. According to Manandhar, the proposed university will give research-oriented degrees equivalent to MSC and PHD.

He said, “We are very hopeful that the proposed budget would get approved as the ministry itself has felt the need for an agriculture research university and a gene bank.”

“If the proposed budget gets approved, NARC would be able to do more research. Last year, the government released Rs 3516.27 million for the agriculture sector, which was only 2.4 per cent of the total budget of Rs 143,912.30 million.

He said that the ministry released Rs 355 million for NARC, which is only 0.24 per cent of the budget released for the ministry. Altogether 53 offices, including NARC, are conducting 473 projects.

“Only 15 per cent goes to real agriculture research from the operational budget, which is only 31.34 per cent of the total budget provided to NARC,” he said adding, “54.37 per cent is allotted to staff budget, 11.47 per cent to administration budget and 2.82 per cent to capital budget.”

Hari Krishna Shrestha, senior scientist at NARC, said that Nepal can not develop until agriculture sector is developed, which is impossible without proper research in the agriculture sector.