Nepal | July 18, 2019

Govt initiates agro-tourism hub

Rewati Sapkota

Government target won’t be met sans skilled human resources, therefore we’ve developed multiple programmes

Kathmandu, February 2

The Nepal Communist Party (NCP) government, which had given the slogan of revolutionising the country’s agricultural sector through production of enough agro-products, has moved ahead a process of setting up a mega agro-tourism project in Udaypur of Province 1.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development initiated the project in coordination with Belaka Municipality to develop the project on 7,000 bigha land on the banks of the Sunkoshi River. It will be the country’s first agro-tourism project.

“It will be a role model project with techno-friendly agricultural farm. Farmers across the country can get technical knowledge of agriculture from this agro-tourism hub,” Minister Chakra PaniKhanal told THT. He said the project would be completed in three years and around 4,000 agro-tourists could be expected to visit the project daily.

The municipality is surrounded by Bhojpur district in the north, Dhankuta in the northeast, Sunsari in the east, Saptari in the south and Chaudandigadi Municipality in the west. Koshi Tappu Wildlife Reserve is in the south-east.

“The mayor of  Belaka Municipality is working to move the project ahead.  I have made multiple visits to the site and I am impressed by the mayor’s working style,” Minister Khanal said. The federal government has allocated Rs 0.8 million budget for the project. “We will use modern knowledge, technology and human resources to make the project successful,” Khanal said.

The ministry has also initiated the process of setting up organic agricultural farm in two municipalities in West Rukum district.

“But there is a gap between the spirit of the line minister and work procedure. That’s why the project has not started yet,” a ministry official told THT.

According to Khanal the government has allocated Rs 0.7 million for this West Rukum project and a steering committee has been formed. Karnali province has already announced it will focus on organic products.

Meanwhile, the government has approved a draft bill for amending the Nepal Agricultural Research Council Act to make it a university rather than limiting it as a research and training centre so as to produce skilled human resources. “The amendment proposal is to upgrade NARC into a university,” Khanal said.

He added that the university would be launched with the Indian government’s support and residential training centres would be expanded to all seven provinces. “Farmers can be trained for seven to 150 days. Farmers and agro scientists will stay at the same training centres spending six hours in the field and two hours in the training room for theoretical classes,” Khanal said.

A government team will monitor the farmers’ work in their field after training. “The government will maintain a roster of trained human resources. The idea is to increase agricultural production,” he said.

According to the ministry, Nepal imports Rs 150 billion worth food items annually, including oil, Rs 28 billion; rice, Rs 25 billion; wheat, Rs 10 billion; apples, Rs 11 billion; and lemon, Rs 4 billion. Nepal exports agriculture products worth only Rs12.5 billion annually.

Agriculture provides employment to 66 per cent of the population and contributes about 33 per cent to the GDP. “The government’s target will not be met without skilled human resources, therefore we have launched multiple programmes at the same time,” Minister Khanal said.

A version of this article appears in print on February 03, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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