Farmers to get ID cards to improve access to services

 The Ministry of Agricultural Development has announced that ID cards will be issued to farmers to facilitate access to agricultural services. The project which will be implemented as a pilot project in five districts, one each in the five development regions, aims to connect small and marginalized farmers and services offered by the government. The scheme was announced under the ministry’s common policy and programmes unveiled on Monday, which is slated to be completed within 100 days.

The ministry said that guidelines for the farmers’ ID card would be prepared by May 14 and that distribution would be completed by July 15. The policy and programmes has targeted involving 1,200 selected youths in commercial agricultural activities. It is scheduled to be completed by mid-July and aims to engage 800 farmers in vegetable production, 150 in fishery and 250 in animal husbandry. The participation of young people in the farm sector has dropped sharply mainly because it has become highly unattractive due to high production cost and labourintensive nature. Nepal’s agriculture is presently passing through its worst time due to being at the bottom of the government’s priority list.

Ministry officials said that the success of the selected farmers could motivate other young people to take up agriculture as a career. The ministry has already prepared a guideline for the programme, and plans to spend Rs 120 million this fiscal year. It has also decided to increase the subsidy on insurance premiums. The subsidy on the premium for insuring crops and livestock will be raised to 75 percent from 50 percent by mid-May. In a bid to encourage farmers to take up dairy production, the ministry said it had decided to launch a special programme by announcing dairy production pocket areas. Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Kavre, Chitwan, Dhading, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Sindhupalchok and areas surrounding the valley will be developed as dairy pocket areas. The government plans to launch urea-molasses mineral block technology to improve the efficiency of livestock production. It will be assisting farmers by distributing 1,400 kg of seeds of fodder crops and pasture grasses and milk buckets besides conducting vaccination.

Likewise, it has planned to prepare a guideline for the import of hybrid cows from neighbouring countries. The government has also decided to appoint two agro technicians related to agriculture and livestock in each village development committee to address farming and farmers’ problems. Similarly, the ministry plans to import 230,000 tonnes of chemical fertilizers to ensure adequate distribution of the vital farm input. To discourage haphazard use of harmful pesticides on vegetable fields, the ministry has decided to set up a pesticide and herbicide residue analysis services laboratory at the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetable Market Development Board. The laboratory, which will have four technicians, will come into operation from mid-May.

Due to a late monsoon and fertilizer shortages, agricultural growth slowed to an alltime low of 1.26 percent in the last fiscal year, down from 4.98 percent before. It adversely affected the country’s economic growth that shrank to 3.56 percent, the lowest since the fiscal year 2006-07 when it grew 2.75 percent. Low production also increased the number of food deficit districts to 33 from the previous 27, and forced Nepal to import rice worth an alarming Rs 13.67 billion in the last fiscal year. The project aims to connect small and marginalised farmers and services offered by the government.

Source: The Kathmandu Post