The government is planning to provide more subsidy on agriculture especially on fertilisers and seeds for the farmers under the poverty line.
“The Finance Ministry and National Planning Commission (NPC) have already started the dialogue on how to provide subsidy on seeds and fertilisers for the farmers under the poverty line," finance minister Barsha Man Pun said, adding that the government is thinking of providing subsidy on livestock for those farmers, who have no farm land.
The government has already started preparation for the budget for the fiscal year 2012-13, he said. “The planning commission has given a ceiling of Rs 429 billion for the budget for the next fiscal year.”
This year's total budget outlay stands at 384.90 billion. However, the government had allocated Rs 12.43 billion for the agriculture in the current fiscal year's budget, which is 2.4 per cent of the total budget outlay and it will be 3.2 per cent, if subsidy on fertiliser is also calculated.
The country imported Rs 110,000 metric tonne (MT) of fertiliser worth Rs 2.48 billion in the current fiscal year, according to spokesperson of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives Dr Hari Dahal.
"The country needs around 600,000 MT to 700,000 MT fertiliser for a fiscal year, he said, adding that the government, if wants to subside fertiliser, has to allocate enough budget for the agriculture.
But the ministry has received Rs 14.60 billion ceiling — for agriculture for the next fiscal year 2012-13 — which could neither be sufficient for fertiliser subsidy not for seeds. “With increased petroleum prices, the price of fertiliser also keeps increasing," Dahal added.
Despite being an agriculture country, Nepal imports agriculture produces and livestock worth billions, according to the central bank data.
The country has imported Rs 450.1 million worth fruits, Rs 187.8 million worth live animals, Rs 1.63 billion worth rice, and Rs 1.73 billion worth vegetables from India in the first seven months of the current fiscal year; whereas the country boosts itself of being an agriculture country and around 70 per cent of the populace are dependent on agriculture.
“The government needs to encourage farmers modernise and commercialise agriculture, if it wants to uplift people's lives, as the current traditional agriculture can neither be sufficient to feed the people not can it help increase income of the people forcing them to find greener pasture in the Gulf and Malaysia,” according to the economists.