Relief for virus-hit farmers soon

Kathmandu, April 8

The government is preparing to bring a relief package targeting farmers and the agriculture sector affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

As per the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD), a draft of the relief package for farmers across the country has been prepared and forwarded to the Ministry of Finance (MoF) for approval.

Hari Bahadur KC, spokesperson for MoALD, informed that the agriculture ministry will table the relief proposal for farmers in the Cabinet meeting following a nod from the Finance Ministry.

“As the coronavirus pandemic has affected farmers and the entire agriculture sector, the government will soon announce some relief packages.

MoALD will present the relief package proposal in the Cabinet as soon as the Finance Ministry gives a go-ahead,” informed KC.

Uttar Kumar Khatri, spokesperson for MoF, said that the relief package proposal of MoALD is being studied and necessary decisions will be taken within a few days.

As the Ministry of Finance is under pressure to manage resources to combat the unfavourable situation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, it is expected to give a go-ahead to MoALD’s proposal after managing necessary resources. In a bid to manage resources to combat the spread of coronavirus, MoF has already halted the budget for low priority projects and programmes.

The planned relief package has been targeted especially towards livestock farmers, including those involved in the production of milk, small farmers with low income (especially vegetable farmers) and poultry farmers, as per MoALD officials.

Among others, the government has planned to provide subsidy to farmers involved in production of milk, chicken and vegetables.

While MoALD plans to provide Rs 10 per litre subsidy on milk for small farmers through milk cooperatives, plans are also afoot to give subsidy of up to Rs 60 per chicken to poultry farmers.

MoALD officials said that the relief package will primarily target small farmers as they are among the worst-hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

Similarly, MoALD also plans to offer cash subsidy to small farmers producing vegetables, fruits and other agriculture produces in small areas of land.

On top of that, the relief package of MoALD will also facilitate large farmers. The government plans to provide relief to big farmers who are into commercial production of agricultural goods by extending the deadline to clear bank loans and provide some subsidy on interest rates.

Meanwhile, MoALD has also deployed a technical team to assess the loss in the agriculture sector due to the coronavirus pandemic.