Gandaki Province minister defends agricultural grant to farmers

Pokhara, March 13

Gandaki Province Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives Minister Lekh Bahadur Thapa has defended the policy of providing grant to farmers, saying it will take some time before the policy starts producing desirable result.

Responding to queries at a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee to discuss the issue of agricultural grant in Pokhara today, the minister said, “How are small farmers supposed to work and thrive in this competitive market without the support from the government?”

“We understand the concerns about possible misuse of the grant, but that can in no way be an excuse to leave the farmers on their own without any incentive from the government. Rather, we must think how the grant scheme could be made effective,” he said, adding the government had brought down the grant ceiling to Rs 300,000 per farmer this year to minimise possible misuse.

“When we talk about giving grant to the farmers, we’re not going to distribute it on whims. There is a procedure in place for that.”

Agriculture Knowledge Centre Syangja Chief Shaligram Adhikari said the system of providing grant on the basis of production was only benefiting large-scale farmers. He sought adjustment in the policy so small-scale farmers could also reap benefits.

Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry, Planning Division Chief Dr Grishmaraj Neupane cited an example of America, where the state provides grant to farmers. He stressed on the need for a research about the efficacy of such grant. “The state is pumping in grant, but there is lack of clarity whether the grant is for the individual or the state. The grant must be provided keeping in view of the benefit for the state and the province, irrespective of the grant amount,” he said.