The Ministry of Agricultural Development (MoAD) has approved the working procedure for selecting and awarding farmers in each district and development region and the President´s Outstanding Farmers Award at the centre to encourage farmers.
The ministry recently approved the ´President´s Outstanding Farmers Award Program Implementation Working Procedure 2071´. Best performing farmers will be awarded with cash prizes and certificates from the next fiscal year. The erstwhile government led by Khila Raj Regmi had announced the award through the budget for fiscal year 2013/14.
Apart from encouraging farmers, the program also aims to revive farming sector which is not taken as a dignified profession, according to Vijoy Kumar Mallick, joint secretary of MoAD. “We could not prepare the working procedure in time and award farmers as mentioned in the budget program in the current fiscal year,” admitted Mallick.
Agriculture contributes about one-third of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Similarly, about 66 percent of the population is involved in agriculture sector.
The government´s move to award farmers has been appreciated by experts and farmers.
The government´s policies and programs for fiscal year 2014/15, which was unveiled on Sunday, also incorporates number of programs to lower trade deficit by attracting youth toward commercial farming, particularly in milk, meat and fruits production.
As per the working procedure, the government will invite application from farmers by publishing a public notice by the end of mid-June. The President will hand over the awards on National Paddy Day which is celebrated on Ashadh 15 as per the Nepali calendar.
Prem Dangal, member of National Planning Commission (NPC) and a farmers´ leader, said the award will boost the morale of farmers who are not getting social recognition.
Agriculture scientist Bhola Man Singh Basnet lauded the program, saying that it will not only help bring farming as a profession into the limelight but will also be a step forward for making the profession prestigious.
He suggested to the government to specify farmers´ job in the awards certificate, like fish farming and milk production, instead of using the generic term ´farmer´.
As per the procedure, farmers will have fill a five-page document at the Agricultural Service Centers (ASC) in respective districts, specifying the type of farming they are involved with or the livestock they keep, or both. They will also have to give details of their crops, number of livestock and birds, total area of their farm, use of irrigation and mechanization, market price of their products, total investment they have made and the source of such investment, among others.
The documents will be verified by the officials of the ASC and forwarded to the district headquarter. A district-level committee will then shortlist three farmers. Three farmers in all 75 districts will be awarded with cash prize of Rs 10,000 and a certificate of recognition.
Similarly, each development region will award five farmers based on the list of shortlisted farmers prepared by districts falling in the region. They will receive cash prize of Rs 25,000 and a certificate.
Finally, a committee led by joint secretary at MoAD will award one outstanding farmer and four best farmers as per the recommendation from each region. The outstanding farmer will receive cash prize of Rs 200,000 and a certificate from the President. Likewise, best farmers will be awarded with cash prize of Rs 100,000 each and certificates.
The program will award a total of 255 farmers at different levels. This is the first time that the government is awarding farmers in this scale and in an organized way.
According to the procedures, farmers´ contribution in passing over experience to neighbors, production status, and proper resource utilization are some of the indicators that will evaluate the performance of the farmers.