Sunday, June 9, 2013

Technology, input on time, market key to boost agriculture output

Experts today suggested adoption of demand driven technology, provide timely inputs like fertilizers and improved seeds on time, markets and services for the increased agriculture output.
Weak agriculture research and lack adequate resources, coupled with lack of enough extension services, capacity and resources to deliver inputs on a timely manner, commercial banks apathy towards providing loans to farmers have contributed to decline in agricultural productivity contributing to food insecurity in the country, said executive director of Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) Dr Bishnu Dev Pant during a Consultation Workshop on Agriculture Inputs and Policy, jointly organised by International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), IIDS and USAID, here today.
Agriculture contributes to around one third of total GDP and around four-fifth (some 4.2 million) populace depends on agriculture providing net employment to two-third of the total population, however, agricultural productivity has started declining over the years, he said, adding that Nepal has become net food importing country in recent years from a food surplus country once. "Some 43 out of 75 districts are food deficit."
He also suggested significant increment in investment on irrigation and in technology, massive investment on rural infrastructures, increase in budgetary allocations to at least 20 per cent of total budget and farmers' access to agricultural inputs to boost the agriculture production.
However, agriculture expert at the NEAT under USAID-Nepal Dr Deva Bhakta Shakya recommended establishment and operation of Fertilizer Buffer stock under Public Private Partnership arrangement, with database and monitoring system of fertilizer use and distribution, including both official and informal import.
The government must bring a progressive policy to meet an annual demand of 758,000 MT of fertilizers ($500m), exploit and engage private sector, provide subsidy for remote farmers, where logistics are still a challenge, the experts claimed. "Of the total demand some 200,000 MT is formally supplied, whereas the remaining gap in filled by the informal supply."
Likewise, director of IFPRI Dr Pramod Joshi, on the occasion, said that the wider policy consolation will help government fill the gap. "As more than 90 per cent Nepalis live in rural areas and depend on agriculture, there is high incidence of poverty is in hills and mountains and in the mid-western and far-western region due to low crop yields," he said, suggesting to analyse policy and execute it properly that would guarantee food safety.

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