New agri plan to boost commercial farming

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With the much-hyped Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) failing to yield the desired results, the government is working on a new development blueprint for the farm sector with support from leading donors. The new plan called Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) is expected to supersede the APP by 2015.

The ADS is being drafted keeping in mind the fundamental changes that have taken place in the last few years which the APP has not envisioned. It will incorporate new issues that have emerged since then like climate change, food security, out-migration of youth and decentralization, inclusion and governance.

The government issued the APP in 1995 as a 20-year vision and strategy for agriculture-led growth and implemented it in 1997. The APP recognised the agricultural sector as an initial engine to accelerate economic growth and was formulated with a view to put the agricultural sector on a sustainable high-growth path. However, the plan failed to achieve the desired impact because of little investment support, lack of effective leadership and coordination and inconsistent policies related to subsidies.

The ADS being drafted with the assistance of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will outline detailed programmes for the next 10 years where all the potential projects will be identified for private sector investment and donor agencies, among other development agencies.

What makes the ADS different from the APP is that almost all the leading donors are engaged in its drafting. One of the reasons behind the APP’s poor performance was that it was government-led and had the support of only one donor. The ADS will engage more donors, thus raising the possibility of its

acceptance.

“Already, more donors are engaged in its formulation,” said Purushottam Mainali, deputy team leader of the ADS formulation team. “With donor interest increasing in the country’s agriculture sector, the ADS will be a common potential document to them to support in any of the programmes.” Apart from the ADB, other donors including the IFAD, EU, FAO, SDC and JICA are supporting the project. The World Bank, AusAid and DFID have shown interest.  The ADS is scheduled to be finalised by the end of 2012. Once the strategy is complete, the government will take its ownership and send it to the National Planning Commission (NPC). It will be implemented after the APP expires in 2015. Agro economists say the ADS will be vital for the development of the agriculture sector with the advent of new international treaty obligations and commitments in the global trade regime. “We have to revise some policies that have become outdated with the latest changes in the WTO policy among other institutional and legal frameworks,” said Hari Dahal, spokesperson at the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives.

Particularly, the ADS will support a transformation from subsistence to commercial farming and also recommend formulating policies to address emerging challenges in the agricultural sector that are becoming real and visible amid low productivity and Nepal’s traditional farming system.

Agro expert Devendra Chapagain said the purpose of the APP was to accelerate both investment and production growth in the agriculture sector. Unfortunately, neither the government, the private sector nor the donor community was interested in implementing it.

“The APP is one of the best strategic documents, but no one realized its importance.” In fact, inconsistent government policy resulted in low priority to execute the plan. Lack of confidence and investment drive in the private sector has also directly or indirectly affected the APP’s execution. “The APP was never implemented, it just remained as a document,” Chapagain added.

Taking stock of past mistakes, the ADS is expected to be a lesson for the country’s long-term agriculture development plan. “But it should review all the strategic plans and principles incorporated in the APP,” Chapagain said.

The APP had an annual growth target of more than 4 percent in food grain production by improving productivity and prioritizing high value crops and public investment. Consequently, the growth rate swelled from 2.6 percent in 1988-98 to 3.6 percent in 1998-08 and then dipped to 2.5 percent in 2010-11.

 

What ADS seeks to do

•Transformation from subsistence to commercial farming

•Focus on market and supply chain infrastructure

•Focus on niche and high-value crops

•Agri business SME development programmes

•Women entrepreneurship development programmes

•Introducing good agricultural practices (GAP, GHP, GMP, GVP)

•Contract law to be enacted

•Boost private investment in agriculture sector

Date:-2011-10-10

Writer:-SANGAM PRASAIN

Website:-http://www.ekantipur.com/2011/10/10/business/new-agri-plan-to-boost-commercial-farming/341949.html

 

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