KATHMANDU, May 30: The government has said that it would focus on modernization and commercialization of agriculture sector to protect people's rights to food and eliminate poverty.
In the budget for Fiscal Year 2018/19 unveiled on Wednesday, the government has allocated budget for utilization of agricultural land, building irrigation facilities, developing rural road networks, and building markets and storage facilities.
The government has allocated Rs 34.8 billion for agriculture and livestock development sector.
Minister for Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada announced that the government will restructure the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project. The project has received budget of Rs 8.1 billion in the new fiscal year. The government has said that it would fix criteria for 39 additional zones such as pocket area, blocs, zones and super zones. Of these zones, 31 are crops specific and 8 are livestock specific. These zones will cover 69,000 hectares of land.
Khatiwada also said that the government will bring programs to make the country self-reliant in livestock and agro-products by promoting poultry, fisheries, vegetables farming and livestock farming. Similarly, the government is bringing special program to increase production of potatoes and onions.
The government has announced grants, technical support and tax exemption for import of machineries for individuals and groups who start commercial farming, animal husbandry production of medicinal herbs in at least 100 ropani of land in hills and 100 bigha of land in tarai districts through contract or collaborative farming.
It has also decided to increase grant on chemical fertilizers by 50 percent to ensure that farmers do not face chemical fertilizers. It has allocated Rs 9 billion for the purpose.
Similarly, the government is also introducing programs to develop improve breed of crops for quicker regeneration of the seeds as well as conserve indigenous seeds. It plans to start similar facilities in all provinces.
The government also aims at doubling fruits farming area over the next five years. It plans to foster public-private initiative for increasing fruits cultivation and production.
"The government will encourage production, processing, packaging and branding of high-yielding cash crops and off-seasonal fruits for export," Khatiwada added.
He further added that the government will provide technical assistance, grants, subsidies and concessional loans to encourage farmers.
Likewise, he also added that the government will arrange more mobile labs for soil test and take needful measures to minimize use of pesticides.
Meanwhile, the government has also announced to start call center facilities to expand the services of agricultural knowledge centers for assisting farmers.