May 25: The government has adopted a policy of attaining economic growth by developing the agriculture sector. In this regard, it has decided to provide subsidies to the farmers only on the basis of production.
President Bidya Devi Bhandari made such announcement while presenting the government's policies and programmes for the upcoming fiscal year (FY 2022/23) at a joint sitting of the federal parliament on Tuesday.
It has been found that the grants provided by the government were reaching sectors other than agriculture, therefore, the government adopted the policy of providing subsidy only to the genuine farmers based on production. The government is preparing to formulate the policy of protecting the farmers and make arrangements to purchase the produce of the farmers in order to promote agriculture as a major pillar of economic development.
Agriculture experts, on the other hand, argue that agricultural subsidies cannot be effective if it is based on production alone. Uddhav Adhikari, coordinator of the Agriculture for Food Campaign, said that it would not be right to give subsidies on the basis of production without classifying the farmers into different groups. He stated, “This kind of policy is good only for big farmers but small farmers can get into trouble. Therefore, in case of misuse of agricultural subsidies, it is better to investigate and take action.”
Although Adhikari welcomed the term “protection of farmers” included by the government in its policies and programmes, he expressed concerns that there is no clear policy to fulfill the commitment.
The government has also adopted a policy to ensure the availability of chemical fertilizers and to provide subsidies on organic fertilizer on par with the chemical fertilizers from the upcoming fiscal year. Similarly, the policies and programmes of the government states that access to micro insurance will be extended to the remote and deprived sectors by expanding agriculture and livestock insurance programmes for the protection of farmers.
The government also pledged to provide relief as soon as possible to the farmers whose crops were damage by the unseasonal rains that occurred in last October.
The government will encourage farmers to engage in collective and cooperative farming on barren land. The government will run special programmes to produce the food products that are imported in large quantities. Under this heading, a special programme will be introduced to increase the production of imported food like paddy, maize, potato, onion, apple, and walnut that are imported in large quantities. In addition, there the government also plans to promote organic farming. Special emphasis was also laid on increasing the production of food items and reducing the processing cost.
The government has set a target of providing irrigation facilities to an additional 22,200 hectares of land next year. Similarly, construction and maintenance of main and branch canals of large and multi-purpose irrigation projects including construction of Bheri Babai diversion headworks and tunnel of powerhouse and Sunkoshi Marin diversion project will be expedited.
Commenting on the policies and programmes announced by the government in the agriculture sector, the outgoing chairman of the National Farmers Commission Chitra Bahadur Shrestha said that it is a good thing that agriculture is considered as one of the top priorities of the government. However, what is more important is the plans that will be included in the budget and passed for implementation rather than the things included in the policies and programmes.