Prime Minister Dr Baburam Bhattarai has said that the government will accord top priority to the agriculture sector.
"The government will double the investment for the agriculture sector in the next fiscal year to transform it from a substantial one to a commercial one, he said while addressing the International Workshop on Agribusiness Promotion today.
"The government is planning to develop the agriculture sector for the economic progress and prosperity of the country," he said, adding that commercialisation of agriculture also focuses on mass employment and poverty alleviation. According to him, the government wants to completely transform the substantial form of agriculture in the country where 70 per cent farmers own less than one hectare land. "Commercialisation of agriculture will attract youth towards it and create mass employment. It will ultimately help the economy," he said, "The government has envisioned agriculture-based industrialisation in the country for a balanced form of development."
According to him, the government is laying emphasis on agriculture to ensure food security in the country. The interim constitution of the country has guaranteed 'food for all' but more than seven million people living in the far-west and mid-west hills are suffering from food shortages. Prime Minister Bhattarai also said that the government needed to massively intervene in the agriculture sector to transform it. "The government needs to adopt land reforms, provide subsidised loans, and research and develop improved seeds and technology for commercialisation of the traditional agriculture system," he said.
The government has already announced to double the budget for the agriculture sector in fiscal year 2012-13.
Though, the prime minister is claiming about according top priority to agriculture and doubling its budget, the National Planning Commission (NPC) has given a ceiling of Rs 14 billion to the Agriculture Ministry from the total ceiling of a Rs 429-billion budget for the next fiscal year. In the current fiscal year, the ministry received Rs 12.43 billion out of the total budget outlay of Rs 384.90 billion.
The conference was jointly organised by Project for Agriculture Commercialisation and Trade (PACT), Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry and World Bank Group to promote the agriculture sector for the growth and sustainability of agribusiness. PACT has started the commercialisation process in 25 districts in the country. About 200 agriculture commercialisation experts from Nepal, India, Bhutan, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Indonesia and US and stakeholders of Nepal are participating in the international workshop.