Kathmandu, May 29: The government has allocated Rs 41.40 billion for the overall development of agriculture and livestock sectors. Presenting the budget for the fiscal year 2020/21 in a joint session of the House of Representatives and National Assembly on Thursday, Finance Minister Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada said that the government had increased budget for commercialisation, modernisation and mechanisation of agriculture by mobilising the available labour forces. The government has increased budget by Rs 6.6 billion to Rs 41.40 billion for the next fiscal year. The government had allocated Rs 34.80 billion for the agriculture sector for the current fiscal year. He said that the budget was proposed to provide subsidy in agricultural inputs, chemical fertilisers and ensure the market, seeds and other facilities related to agriculture work. The government has allocated Rs 3.22 billion for the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project targeting to expand the programme by restructuring it. Under this programme, development of one production pocket area in a local level based on potentiality of crops will be ensured. Around 250 pocket areas will be developed over the fiscal year, Dr Khayiwada said. The budget has set a target to make the county self-reliant on basic foods, vegetables and fruits at the earliest by increasing the production of agriculture and livestock items. To increase agricultural productivity, focus would be maintained for optimum utilization of land and promoting the potential products. “A land utilization map will be developed for the proper utilisation of land and the tendency to construct houses in fertile land will be discouraged. Land bank will be developed. The budget has proposed to allocate Rs 500 million for the investment as share in the land bank,” he said. The government will encourage the farmers to use the barren land. The government will run a campaign for the utilisation of government land by planting fruits and other agriculture crops based on the feasibility. The budget has proposed to establish ‘land bank’ unit in around 300 local levels with the coordination of federal, state and local governments in the next fiscal year. The special programmes related to vegetables, milk and meat will be carried out to make the country self-reliant in these sectors in the coming fiscal year, he added. “To ensure smooth supply of chemical fertilisers for increasing the agro products, I have allocated Rs 11 billion,” he said. As per the policy to provide subsidy to the sugarcane farmers on the basis of their production, the government has allocated Rs 950 million.
Modality of agricultural subsidy changed The government has reviewed the modality of agricultural subsidy to ensure the access of all farmers to government subsidy, he said. Community and group farming will be encouraged for agricultural productivity and also provide grant for the construction of cold storages for those groups of farmers who are farming through land bank, organisation and group. The government will develop the market infrastructure in all local levels to ensure the market of products, he said, adding that under-construction fruit and vegetable market at Chovar in Kathmandu would come into operation from the next fiscal year. “I have made provision to implement the concept of ‘food bank’ to maintain stock of foods. For this, I have made provision of financial transfer of Rs 1 billion to the local levels for the establishment of 200 food storage centres to ensure the prices of agro products,” he said. The government has allocated budget of Rs 500 million to mobilise at least one agro technician and one veterinarian to a local level for ensuring the consultation to the farmers. The government has increased subsidy on insurance premium of agro and livestock insurance by expanding the network of agro and livestock insurance system. Likewise, the government would promote organic farming across the country and also support for marketing them in the international market with branding. The government has proposed to expand the soil test laboratory for the regular soil test considering the need to increase productivity. The government would provide technical services to the farmers for proper utilisation of pesticide, seeds and soil test.
Farmers’ credit card to ensure equal access to agricultural loan ‘To ensure equal access of farmers to agriculture loan, farmer’s credit card system will come into effect from the next fiscal year,” he said. The agriculture assistance would be mobilised in all wards to provide basic agro and livestock services and training to the farmers. The government has also increased budget for the infrastructure development of irrigation projects. The government has allocated budget of Rs 27.96 billion for irrigation infrastructure.