April 29: Finance Minister Janardan Sharma complained that the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development did not obey his orders. Finance Minister Sharma said that the staff did not respond to his instruction to bring improved varieties of paddy seeds and distribute them to farmers two months ago.
“For the last two months, I have been asking to distribute improved variety of paddy seeds to the farmers, but you (the staff of the Ministry of Agriculture) have not shown any interest,” Finance Minister Sharma told the officials of the agriculture ministry during a discussion at the Finance Ministry on Wednesday.
During the meeting, the finance minister issued a fresh directive to provide improved varieties of seeds to the farmers so that they can plant paddy in the upcoming planting season in June-July.
The Ministry of Finance held discussions with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supply, Department of Quality and Measurement on the topics of increasing paddy production, systematic operation of quarantine and quality certification.
During the discussion, Finance Minister Sharma said that there is a pressure to reduce the growing import of rice starting from this year itself.
Minister Sharma said, “If we use improved varieties of seeds, it is estimated that the paddy production will grow by three folds this year. Let's not delay this task. If we manage to raise the production three times by December, there will be no need to import rice.”
Sharma assured that if the improved seeds are expensive for the farmers, the ministry will issue subsidies right away. “If you need subsidy for improved seeds, tell us how much money you need, and we will issue it. We believed that rice imports worth billions of rupees can be reduced by spending little amount on seeds.”
During the discussion, Finance Secretary Madhu Kumar Marasini said that traders should be encouraged to import seeds.
Likewise, Agriculture Secretary Dr Govinda Sharma informed that the productivity of paddy is 3.5 metric tons per hectare on an average and that the production will improve a lot with the use of improved variety of seeds.