The parliamentarians participating in the Committee of Industry, Commerce, Labour, and Consumer Welfare today underscored the need to make the country self-reliant in agriculture.

Expressing their dissatisfaction with Nepal's dependence on foreign countries for agricultural products, they stressed the need to commercialise agriculture in the country.

Parliamentarian Amrita Devi Agrahari said that Nepal should emulate other countries' best practices for commercialisation of agriculture.

As for inviting foreign investment in agriculture at a time when food products are being imported to Nepal from other countries, Agrahari opined that bringing foreign investment would be a good choice only if we were unable to produce food abundantly.

Likewise, another parliamentarian Gopal Bom expressed deep concern about the pathetic state of the country. "Huge areas of arable land have turned barren as more Nepalis are flocking abroad for employment," he noted, adding, "As fertile land has been left barren, we have no choice but to rely on foreign countries for food items.

The barren land should be brought into use, and we need to stop being dependent on other countries."

President of the Committee Bimal Prasad Shreevastav remarked that the government had not come up with a clear policy to attract foreign investment in any particular sector. Earlier, the committee had concluded that there was no urgency to invite foreign investment in the agriculture sector. Shreevastav expressed displeasure at the government's tendency to allow foreign investment in every sector. He expressed concern that foreign investment could be invited in a sector in which Nepal could attain self-sufficiency.

Similarly, Secretary at the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies Dinesh Bhattarai said the government had called for foreign investment in a bid to become self-reliant in agriculture and export the surplus.

"The government aims to generate jobs and export locally produced food items," he said, adding, "It takes a huge investment to be self-reliant in agriculture.

Currently, the government has not succeeded in ensuring investment in such a scale."

A version of this article appears in the print on April 5, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.