Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has offered a slew of projects and programmes truly worth nearly Rs100 billion to boost Nepal’s agricultural sector as the agriculture imports bill has initiated ballooning out of control.
Agriculture Ministry Secretary Yubak Dhoj GC on Sunday provided his ministry’s future “game changer” projects to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli to boost agricultural production and farmers’ earnings. GC floated a minimum of seven medium and long-term projects.
The proposed projects are Farmers Welfare Programme well worth Rs50 billion, One Municipality One Model Farm worth Rs20 billion, Youth Employment Special Programme worth Rs5 billion, Food Hygiene and Standards Programme worth Rs5 billion, Agri Market Promotion Project worth Rs5 billion, Paddy Production Programme worth Rs4 billion and Agriculture Research and Extension programme worth Rs1 billion.
“The agriculture sector in Nepal is filled with challenges. The population is increasing and we need to increase production while making use of the similar areas of land and less human resources department,” he claimed.
Nepal’s agricultural goods import bill crossed Rs200 billion for the very first time in the past economical year. Nepal imported agricultural products worthy of Rs215.50 billion in the past financial year, up 10 per-cent year-on-year. The share of agro products in the total import bill has swelled to 17 per-cent. The country’s total import bill amounted to Rs1,243 billion in the past financial year.
Nepal’s trustfulness on foreign markets for agricultural goods has increased nearly fivefold in the past nine years. The food import bill in 2009-10 amounted to Rs44.43 billion. The import bill jumped to Rs76.05 billion in 2011-12 and to Rs99.35 billion in 2012-13. It further more ballooned to Rs127.51 billion in 2013-14.
In 2014-15, Nepal imported agro products worth Rs157.78 billion, pushing agro commodities to the top of the list of imports and knocking petroleum products from the number one spot.
Cereal tops the listing of agro imports followed by edible oil, vegetables and food and animal fodder. As per the statistics, the cereal import bill amounted to Rs44.52 billion in the past economical year, up from Rs40.14 billion in the previous year . Agro experts insist that Nepal begun importing cereals seven to eight years ago, and then now imports have risen to alarming levels.
Edible oil imports amounted to Rs29.72 billion in the past economical year, up from Rs28 .83 billion.
Likewise, the vegetable import charge enhanced to Rs22.67 billion in the past economical year from Rs21.50 billion in the earlier economical year.
Secretary GC informed the prime minister that imports of rice has increased primarily because of demand of aromatic and fine rice. The raising population of middle-income Nepali likes to eat basmati rice however Nepal doesn’t grow such fine rice in sufficient quantities.
GC declared that demand for Nepali agriculture goods, particularly fresh vegetables, lentils, large cardamom and ginger, in the Gulf countries had been growing strongly. “But we lack standards, processing and packaging of these products,” claimed GC.
“Similarly, in order to enhance exports of tea, coffee, honey and herbs in Europe, Japan, the US and Australia, we must concentrate on improving the products’ level of quality and their certification.”