Agriculture Ministry claims 76 % fiscal progress but farmers unhappy

KATHMANDU

The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has claimed of achieving 76 per cent fiscal progress by the end of the Fiscal Year 2021/22. The Ministry’s claim aside, the farmers are however unhappy as they are not getting chemical fertilizers at the time of rice planting. The farmers need nearly 300 thousand metric tonnes chemical fertilisers in the month of Asar alone. The government says 218 thousand metric tonnes subsidised fertiliser has been sold during this period. Farmers need 1.2 million metric tonnes fertiliser annually.

Sixty-eight per cent rice planting had been carried out across the country till July 12 in the previous fiscal year, 2021/22, and it has decreased by eight per cent in the same period of the current fiscal year 2022/23. Only 60 per cent rice planting has taken place this fiscal year, the Ministry said. “The government procures 500 thousand metric tonnes chemical fertiliser and the private sector 700 thousand metric tonnes,” said Govinda Prasad Sharma, the Agricultural Development Secretary at the Ministry.

The Department of Agriculture has acknowledged that the paddy cultivation has not been encouraging as the farmers have not got sufficient fertiliser by the end of the month of Asar. The monsoon paddy cultivation in Nepal is done until mid-August. Rice plantation was 97 per cent by mid-August last fiscal year. Ministry Joint Secretary and Spokesperson Prakash Kumar Sanjel said the Ministry has successfully carried out 13 major works by the end of the fiscal year 2021/22.

These include: policy and legal arrangements, fixation of the price of various crops and agriculture produce, provision of relief to the farmers affected by the unseasonal rains and coordination, import and sale of chemical fertilisers, quality control, implementation of the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project, technical extension works, genetic improvement, vaccine production and management, livestock services, fishery and crop insurance, livestock products and livestock products export, agriculture infrastructure development and farmer listing.

The bill to amend the Seeds Act, 2045 and the Plant Protection Act, 2064 has been authenticated by President Bidya Devi Bhandari. Similarly, the Bird Flu Control Regulations, 2078 and the National Animal Health Policy, 2078, the National Animal Breeding Policy, 2078 have been endorsed. The draft of the National Fisheries Policy has been tabled at the Council of Ministers for its passage and the Food Hygiene and Quality Bill, 2079 in the National Assembly after its deliberation in the legislation committee.

The drafts of the bills including Animal Welfare, Infectious Animal Disease Control and Agribusiness Promotion have proceeded after their deliberation in the Nepal Law Commission.
For the current fiscal year, 2022/23, the government has fixed the minimum support price of thick-sized paddy at Rs 2,752 per quintal and the minimum support price of medium-sized paddy at Rs 2,902 per quintal.

In order to ensure purchase of paddy from farmers, the government has directed the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project to register farmers and cooperatives. In the previous FY, 2021/22, the government purchased 8,092 metric tonnes of paddy from farmers through cooperatives at the support price. Minimum price of sugarcane has been fixed at Rs 590 per quintal, a 8.04 percent increment as compared to the previous FY, 2021/22. In the FY, 2020/21, over Rs 775 million has been released as incentives to the sugarcane farmers of eight districts, it has been said.

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