The parliamentary Agriculture and Water Resources Committee today decided to ask the government rationale behind commitment and resources to meet ambitious target of the draft Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS).

The strategy that has envisioned an ambitious growth pattern in output and land and labour productivity for the next 20 years needs ample resources to achieve the target.

The ambitious strategy has recommended a spending of Rs 502 billion in 10 years and around Rs 50 billion annually. But the government has yet to finalise the resource.

The committee has invited National Planning Commission and Finance and Agricultural Development Ministries to a meeting on Sunday to explain the government’s ‘rationale’ behind commitment and mobilisation of resources to meet the target envisioned by the draft,  said chairman of the committee Gagan Thapa.

The committee will even invite donor communities, who were engaged in preparing the draft to explain their promised commitment to Nepal’s agro sector, he added. ” However, there is still confusion among lawmakers on whether to allow foreign capital or not in the farm sector.”

The Agriculture Ministry is preparing final draft of the strategy – barred foreign investment and land ownership in primary farm production – to send to the cabinet for its approval. The draft has also restricted cultivation of genetically modified organism (GMO) to research purposes.

“The parliamentary committee’s task is to see whether the fundamental issues contained in the policy draft are favourable to the country or not,” Thapa said, adding that it will be easier for the government to own the strategy, once the parliamentary panel endorses it.

The strategy that will replace the existing Agricultural Perspective Plan 1995-2015 has been prepared with a 20-year vision and a 10-year planning horizon. The project will involve 13 development partners and is likely to be implemented by the beginning of 2015.

Prepared with technical support from Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other development partners, the strategy has targeted boosting the average annual growth rate to five per cent from the current three per cent for the agricultural sector, and increase land productivity to $5,000 per hectare from the current $1,600.

Likewise, it also aims to increase labour productivity to $2,000 from current $800 per worker. The document aims at increasing exports of farm items to $1.6 billion from current $250 million. It has envisaged increasing round-the-year irrigation coverage areas to 80 per cent from the current 18 per cent.

One of the document ambitious targets is to halve poverty in less than a decade through an agriculture-led economy.

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