KATHMANDU/ The Ministry of Agriculture and Development, with financial assistance from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and eleven development partners, held a workshop on 16 September to discuss the vision and policy options for the Government’s planned Agricultural Development Strategy (ADS).
“The Government of Nepal recognizes the importance of transforming agriculture. The ADS study has identified potentials for the country’s agriculture to achieve much higher productivity, competitiveness, inclusiveness, and sustainability while making it more resilient to climate change impacts. The discussions during the workshop have brought the Government, stakeholders including farmer organizations, and development partners closer to shaping a viable strategy for the sector,” said ADB’s Country Director for Nepal Mr. Kenichi Yokoyama.
The workshop was chaired by Vice Chairman of National Planning Commission Mr. D.B Kshetry, and attended by Rt. Hon James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, Mr. Krishna Hari Baskota, Secretary Ministry of Finance, and representatives of other government agencies, academic institutes, farmer organizations, civil society organizations, and development partners.
According to ADB's press release, agriculture is the main source of livelihood for most Nepalis but traditional agriculture offers few opportunities for the rural youth, prompting more than 1,600 to leave the country every day to seek work abroad. Nevertheless, Nepal has high potential for exporting high-value agricultural products such as fruits and vegetables, seeds, tea and coffee, medicinal plants and essential oils, and dairy products from the Himalayas. This would increase opportunities for farmers and agribusinesses.
The ADS currently being developed by the Government, aims to guide the process of agricultural transformation over the next 20 years through increasing labor and land productivity while promoting exports. Initiated in April 2011, the ADS has so far completed thorough sector assessments, and drafted a sector vision and policy options, which were discussed during the workshop. On the basis of these, a comprehensive strategy and implementation plan will be developed by March 2013.
“Successful reforms require enthusiastic supporters and champions to drive the process forward. From my discussion and observation I am satisfied that there is the necessary enthusiasm and commitment at high political level across all political parties to carry the reform process forward. Over the next months the ADS must develop a detailed strategic plan to translate political commitment into effective implementation. The plan must reflect the highly diverse opportunities and needs across the country from lowland Terai to the high Himalayas,” said Rt. Hon. James Bolger, former Prime Minister of New Zealand.
In 2011, ADB, in a co-financing partnership with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), provided the initial grant to help the Government prepare the strategy. Subsequently, preparation of the ADS has been financially assisted by ten additional development partners. Presently its implementation is driven by Ministry of Agriculture and Development, and guided by a high powered Steering Committee co-chaired by the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Agriculture and Development and including the representatives of the concerned ministries and farmer organizations.