The government has started consultation for the planned Agricultural Development Strategy (ADS).
"The Strategy study has identified potentials for the country’s agriculture to achieve much higher productivity, competitiveness, inclusiveness, and sustainability while making it more resilient to climate change impacts," said ADB country director for Nepal Kenichi Yokoyama during a workshop to discuss the vision and policy options for the Agricultural Development Strategy organised by the Ministry of Agriculture and Development, with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and eleven development partners here today.
"The government recognises the importance of transforming agriculture," he said, adding that the discussions during the workshop have brought the government, stakeholders including farmer organisations, and development partners closer to shaping a viable Strategy for the sector.
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for most of the Nepalis but traditional agriculture offers few opportunities for the rural youth, prompting more than 1,600 to leave the country every day to seek work abroad in search of greener pasture.
Nevertheless, Nepal has high potential for exporting high-value agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables, seeds, tea and coffee, medicinal plants and essential oils, and dairy products from the Himalayas. It would increase opportunities for farmers and agribusinesses.
The Strategy currently being developed by the government aims to guide the process of agricultural transformation over the next 20 years through increasing labour and land productivity while promoting exports.
Started in April 2011, the strategy has so far completed thorough sector assessments, and drafted a sector vision and policy options, which were discussed during the workshop. On the basis of these, a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan will be developed by March 2013.
Chaired by vice chair of National Planning Commission (NPC) Deependra Bahadur Kshetry, the workshop saw the participation of former Prime Minister of New Zealand James Bolger, finance secretary Krishnahari Baskota and representatives of other government agencies, academic institutes, farmer organisations, civil society organisations, and development partners.
"Successful reforms require enthusiastic supporters and champions to drive the process forward," Bolger said, hailing the enthusiasm and commitment at high political level across all political parties to carry the reform process forward. "Over the next months the Strategy must develop a detailed strategic plan to translate political commitment into effective implementation."
"The plan must reflect the highly diverse opportunities and needs across the country from lowland Tarai to the high Himalayas," he added.
In 2011, ADB, in a co-financing partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), provided the initial grant to help the government prepare the Strategy.
Subsequently, preparation of the Strategy has been financially assisted by ten additional development partners. Presently its implementation is driven by Ministry of Agriculture and Development, and guided by a high powered Steering Committee co-chaired by the Finance Ministry and Ministry of Agriculture and Development and including the representatives of the concerned ministries and farmer organisations.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth and regional integration. ADB has worked in partnership with the Nepal since the country joined ADB as a founding member in 1966.
As of June, 30, 2012, a cumulative ADB lending to Nepal has reached $3.7 billion, with investment grant projects amounting to $3.5 billion and technical assistance amounting to $163 million.