Source: The Himalayan Times
KATHMANDU, JUNE 21
Agriculture stakeholders have stressed on developing infrastructure to transform the agriculture sector into a big industry. Speaking during an interaction programme organised by the Society of Economic Journalists – Nepal (SEJON) today, stakeholders have stressed on the need to develop infrastructure.
Pawan Golyan, chairperson of Golyan Group, said that the need right now is to take a leap from only distribution of grants and subsidies.
“We need to commercialise the agriculture sector for which product transportation, storage and marketing are needed,” he said. “The upcoming Monetary Policy should create an environment for investors to invest in establishing dry, cold and normal store houses and for marketing of the products,” he reiterated.
Golyan further said that the threshold of Rs 100 million of refinancing should not be implemented in the agriculture sector as announced in the budget for next fiscal year. Moreover, subsidised loans from the government should be increased to Rs 2.5 million for agriculture businesses.
Meanwhile, Anand Bagaria, managing director of Nimbus Group, said that the government should frame a policy focusing on increasing the contribution of the agriculture sector in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). Meanwhile, he urged the government not to expect a large number of people to get jobs in the agriculture sector.
“Since we are talking about mechanisation and modernisation of agriculture sector it will actually reduce the manpower required,” Bagaria said, adding, “Hence, while talking about modernisation in agriculture sector the government should now focus on developing infrastructure for the sector.” He further said that assessment of cash grants should be conducted and new policies related to providing cash grants for the sector should be introduced.
Amid this, Jay Mukunda Khanal, former secretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, said that despite several policies banks are still ready to pay penalty rather than investing in the agriculture sector. “The government and Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) have made several mandatory policies on providing loans to farmers however, it is still very difficult to obtain loans,” he added.
Hence, NRB has to monitor and regulate the sector, Khanal said. He further requested the central bank to implement the seed replacement policy for the betterment of the agriculture sector.
Meanwhile, Prem Dangal, an agriculture expert, added that the central bank should bring a policy that clearly states the percentage of investment that banks and financial institutions (BFIs) must make in the agriculture sector.
“Our policy says that 25 per cent of the total investment of BFIs should be made in prioritised sectors including agriculture,” he said, “However, no clear limitation has been decided for the investment in each sector.
“Hence, NRB should come out with the exact figure that BFIs need to invest in agriculture,” Dangal added.
He further said that NRB must contribute in implementing the government’s announcement of forming a fund worth Rs 50 billion for small industries and tourism and agriculture sectors. “NRB must also play a role in implementing the government’s decision to form a fund worth Rs 100 billion for refinancing loans,” Dangal mentioned.