Call for more investment in agriculture sector

Published On: August 1, 2016 01:40 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Aug 1: Experts have urged the government for more investment in agriculture sector to increase its contribution to the economy.

While agriculture is the most important economic sector for development with contribution of over 30 percent to gross domestic product (GDP) and over 65 percent of employment for the country, it has, unfortunately, also remained the worst-faring sector with only 2.9 percent growth rate through 2006-2015, compared to 3.2 percent in industry and 5.3 percent growth in services, they said, adding that investment of commercial banks in the sector also hovered just over 7 percent in 2015.

"ADB has been assisting the government for the development of the Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS)," Kenichi Yokoyama, Country Director of Asian Development Bank (ADB) that has commissioned the first-of-its-kind study-report to help promote the agriculture sector, said.

The study was led by White Lotus Centre (WLC) which identified policy and non-policy related barriers for investment in the sector and proposed a way forward to tackle these.

"We have also been preparing projects that help policy reforms in agriculture sector mobilizing our partners for the same," he said, adding that it is an outstanding platform to discuss about implementing strategies and actions to enhance investment in agriculture sector for inclusive growth.

The study-report was discussed by key stakeholders, including government, commercial bankers, agriculture entrepreneurs and experts, to agree necessary actions in order to facilitate medium and large-scale investment in agriculture sector in Kathmandu on Friday.

In the event jointly hosted by ADB and WLC, experts also urged to pour more investment in the agriculture sector to increase its contribution to the GDP and also create more employment.

If the agriculture sector is to generate significant economic gains for Nepal and its people, as desired by the government in its Agriculture Development Strategy, the sector has to be commercialized, they stressed, adding: "And, while there are several technological and knowledge-based barriers limiting this transition, initiatives to encourage medium and large-scale investments in agriculture will give the economy a boost."

Addressing the event, Managing Director at WLC, Kapil Tamot, who headed the study team, said that Nepal as an agriculture-centric economy is not reflected in reality. "Agricultural imports are ever increasing and over 50 percent of the population economically involved in the sector is still in the subsistence level," he said, adding that the country must move up from subsistence farming. "This requires immediate attention to expedite, revive and introduce policies, and to promote dialogue among the government-financial institutions-entrepreneurs as well as to provide technical assistance to both financial institutions and entrepreneurs," he added.

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