Republica Daily, 11 Dec 2017
Though organic agro tourism is working wonders in our neighboring tourism markets, a government program to promote this niche tourism product has received cold response from stakeholders.
The Vegetables Development Directorate (VDD) has sought proposal from homestay operators, tourism development committees and farmers' group of eight districts for a grant of up to Rs 2.5 million each. The deadline to submit proposal is expiring on Tuesday. But the directorate has not received even a single proposal till Sunday.
Homestay operators, tourism development committees and farmers' group of Salle-Jamune area of Kavre, Machhamara area of Sunsari, Ghodaghodi Lake area of Kailali, Patale area of Solukhumbu and Kakani area of Nuwakot are eligible for the grant. Similarly, Homestay operators, tourism development committees and farmers' group of Kathmandu, Chitwan and Udayapur are also eligible for the grant.
The Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD) brought the agro-tourism promotional program to support livelihood of farmers through agro-tourism. According to the ministry, the grant can be used to sanitation, decoration, renovation and gardening in the areas where the program will be implemented. Similarly, it can be used to built access road, enhance quality of accommodation, and to increase production of vegetables and livestock.
Talking to Republica, Hari Bahadur KC, program director of VDD, said he was disappointed at the cold response to the grant by the stakeholders“ "We made a call for proposal on November 8, giving a month's time to submit proposa”," he said“ "The deadline is expiring in two days, but we have not received even a single proposa”."
KC also said that the election might have affected the program“ "If we do not get any proposal till Tuesday, our technical committee is likely to extend the deadlin”," he added“ "Our district offices might have received some proposals. Hopefully, we will get some proposals by the time the deadline end”."
Though private sector has been investing in organic agro tourism, this is the first time that the government has set aside funds for the program.
Stakeholders say they do not know how to apply for the program“ "We know about the program. But we do not have any idea about the application proces”," Suraj Bastola, treasurer of National Homestay Association of Nepal, said“ "We have heard that the government is bringing agro tourism promotional program. But we do not know whether the program has been implemented or no”," Bastola said adding“ "We even don't know about the application proces”."
Pointing out the weakness on the part of the government, he added“ "The government should have used proper medium to inform stakeholders about the program and the process to apply for the grant. Such programs are essential to encourage entrepreneurs involved in agro-touris”."
Yogendra Karki, the spokesperson for the MoAD, said that the grant program aims to increase the footfalls of domestic as well as foreign tourists to village areas“ "We want to make agro-tourism an alternative to foreign employment for local youths. VDD will implement the program in coordination with local bodie”," he added.