KATHMANDU, Jan 20: The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development is all set to implement Riverbed/River Bank Farming Program from the current Fiscal Year 2018/19.
After receiving a go ahead from the cabinet, the ministry is preparing to implement the program in three districts -- Sunsari, Kapilvastu, and Kanchanpur -- in the first phase.
The government has brought this project to promote riverbed farming in the country.
Earlier, the government had announced to implement the project through the budget speech of Fiscal Year 2016/17. The program was mentioned again in the current fiscal year's budget.
Under the project, vegetables will be planted in waterways dug along seasonal sand banks after the river water recedes post-monsoon. The crops are harvested before the onset of the next monsoon.
Previously, similar programs were run with foreign funding, but the government is now bringing the project through its own resources, according to Tej Bahadur Subedi, spokesperson at the Agriculture Ministry.
"We have observed that the project implemented by NGOs and INGOs are doing well in this area," he said, adding: “We used to support them by creating an environment to implement their project. Now we will be operating this project on our own.”
Currently, non-governmental organizations are running riverbed farming projects in Kailali, Kanchanpur, Bardiya, Banke, Dang, Siraha, and Saptari districts.
The ministry hopes to provide livelihood to farmers who are landless or fall below the poverty line. "It will not only utilize the riverbed areas but also help farmers to earn money," Subedi added. Every year, riverbed area is increasing in the country, while the area of productive land is decreasing, he added.
"We have expected this project to help increase the production of vegetables and fruits such as watermelon, cucumber, and bottle gourd during the dry season,” he said.
According to the ministry, around 60,000 hectares of riverbed land are suitable for farming across the country. Farmers are currently using around only 6,000 hectares of such land for farming.
The project will be implemented under the supervision of National Center for Potato, Vegetable and Spice Crops Development. The center will be implementing this project through District Agriculture Knowledge Center and local-level units.
According to the project work plan, the government will be providing vegetable/fruits seeds, irrigation material, and chemical fertilizers as subsidies for farming. It will also provide all technical support and training for farming. The ministry will provide each farmer Rs 10,000 per cluster to lease the land and Rs 5000 per bigaha for farming.