KATHMANDU, March 14: The government has cut the grant amounts being provided to farmers for the purchase of chemical fertilizers, which will hit farmers hard with expensive agricultural inputs.
Prakash Kumar Sanjel, spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD), said that the measure has been taken as per the government policy to curtail grants amount on chemical fertilizers.
“As per the revised price, urea will be dearer by Rs 11 per kg, diammonium phosphate (DAP) by Rs 7 per kg and potash by Rs 9 per kg,” Sanjel said.
With the government grants in place, farmers previously used to pay Rs 14 per kg for urea, Rs 43 per kg for DAP and Rs 31 per kg for potash. According to the new rates, farmers will have to purchase urea at Rs 25 per kg, DAP at Rs 50 per kg and potash at Rs 40 per kg.
According to the MoALD, the grant amount for the agriculture inputs has been reduced by 11.78 percent on an average. “As of now, the government grant makes up 70 percent of the total cost, which has now been reduced to 59.4 percent,” Sanjel said.
The government has curtailed the grant on urea from 80.11 percent to 64.49 percent; DAP from 59.4 percent to 52.38 percent and potash from 58.2 percent to 46.09 percent. The MoALD says the Ministry of Finance has directed the line ministry to reduce the grant, aiming to reduce the dependency on imported fertilizers and to lessen the cost burden to the government.
Meanwhile, the MoALD has been blamed for dilly dallying to reimburse government-announced grants on premium against the farm insurance. According to the insurers, the ministry has not provided about Rs 75 million dues on the premium borne out of their policy sold between October 2021 and April 2022.
During the period, the insurance companies sold insurance policies of Rs 1.59 billion to the farmers. Of the amount, insurers were supposed to collect a premium worth Rs 93.82 million.
In a bid to cover the damages and losses on agriculture, Nepal government introduced the Agriculture and Livestock Insurance program in the fiscal year 2013/14. In the initial phase, the government provided a 50 percent subsidy on the premium of the insurance. The subsidy on premium was later increased to 75 percent, and currently it is 80 percent.
Despite the government's ambitious program, it is not being effective at the farmers’ level.