Political will must for farmers’ pension scheme

Kathmandu, February 16

Though the Pushpa Kamal Dahal-led government in early 2016 had announced it would start a contributory pension scheme for farmers from the last fiscal year, this plan is yet to make any tangible progress.

The Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) — the government body responsible for implementing this scheme — has said that though MoAD is in a position to implement the pension scheme for the country’s farmers, execution of this scheme primarily depends on the commitment and willingness from the

political level.

“The implementation mechanism for this scheme is secondary. The major aspect is how committed is the political leadership to really implement the contributory pension scheme for farmers and the necessary budget for the project needs to be allocated accordingly,” said MoAD Spokesperson Yogendra Karki, adding that as the pension scheme for farmers is a recognition to farmers and the entire agriculture sector, the political leadership should highly prioritise this programme.

As a new government has been formed recently, Karki expects the farmers’ pension scheme to move ahead after MoAD gets a new leadership. “MoAD is hopeful that the new government will allocate the necessary budget and enforce measures to execute the farmers’ pension scheme in the budget for the next fiscal year,” he added.

Earlier, MoAD had commissioned a study for implementation of the pension scheme for farmers.

The study report had recommended the government to set up a separate ‘Pension Fund’ and make farmers, government and banks and financial institutions as contributors to the fund where farmers would contribute one per cent of their total annual production as premium.

Similarly, the study report had suggested the government to contribute 150 per cent of the premium amount for the farm labourers and deprived farmers, 100 per cent for smallholder farmers, 50 per cent for middle-

income farmers, and 25 per cent for commercial farmers.

Meanwhile, the study commissioned by MoAD had also stressed the contribution to the fund from banks and financial institutions at an interest rate of no more than six per cent.

Farmers involved in agriculture for 20 years would be able to withdraw the entire pension amount at once, as per the study.

Though MoAD has classified farmers into three categories — small farmers, medium farmers and commercial farmers — the government is yet to identify beneficiary farmers for the farmers’ pension scheme and selection criteria for farmers under the aforementioned broad categories.