Federal budget for agri sector slashed by 15pc to Rs30.4b

May 30, 2017

The Kathmandu Post, 30th May 2017, Kathmandu

The government has slashed its 2017-18 central level expenditure on the agricultural sector by 15 percent to Rs30.41 billion, while transferring a chunk of the budget to the local units.

Yogendra Kumar Karki, spokesperson for the Ministry of Agricultural Development, said the total budget for the farm sector, including livestock, hovers around Rs40 billion. Nearly one-fourth of the budget has been transferred to local units.

Breakdown of the budget shows the Ministry of Agricultural Development has received Rs24.26 billion for central level expenditure, while Rs5 billion has been transferred to local units. Likewise, the Ministry of Livestock Development has received Rs6.14 billion, with Rs4.60 billion being earmarked for the grassroots level. For the fiscal year 2016-17, the government had allocated Rs35.86 billion for agriculture development and livestock promotion.

“As there are no new programmes in the budget, we will continue with the same programmes and projects launched this fiscal year,” said Shankar Sapkota, deputy spokesperson for the ministry. “However, the central level expenditure is quite lower than we had expected.”

While presenting the budget in Parliament on Monday, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara said that the government has accorded priority for farm modernisation, commercialisation and mechanisation to attain self-sufficiency on food.  Minister Mahara said that ‘pocket and block’ development programmes under the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project would be handed over to the local units.  Likewise, special crops development and production programme; farmers market infrastructure development programme; fishery development programme; one-ward-one-technician programme, small irrigation projects, among others, will be handed over to the local units. “The budget will be mobilised in the areas prioritised by the Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) launched this fiscal year,” he said.

“As the agriculture sector contributes to 28.89 percent of the GDP and employs two-thirds of the country’s population, the sector cannot take a leap forward without adopting  a modern farming technology,” said Mahara.

He said that the plan to issue pension card for the farmers would be studied further. “The government has planned to establish a dairy industry to promote the livestock sector.”

Mahara said that the subsidy offered by the government to the farmers in different areas of production would be deposited into farmers’ bank accounts beginning the next fiscal year. “To implement the contract and community farming, the government

will prepare policy and implement it. Spurred on by good monsoon, Nepal’s farm sector is expected to register a nine-year high growth rate of 5.32 percent this fiscal year.

Govt to table ‘Land Use Bill’

KATHMANDU: Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara announced on Monday that the government would table the “Land Use Bill” in the ongoing session of Parliament to stop haphazard plotting and to encourage optimal use of land for agriculture. “Once enacted into a law, it will prevent plotting of the agricultural land,” he said. In 2012, the government officially launched the ‘Land Use Policy’ for the first time, dividing land into seven categories—agricultural, forest, residential, commercial, public, industrial, and others. (PR)