Agriculture In The New Budget 2013/2014: Notes from the Finance Minister’s Speech Today

Humla, Nepal. 2010. Photo: Kashish Das Shrestha

Humla, Nepal. 2010. Photo: Kashish Das Shrestha

As the Finance Ministry Shanker P. Koirala announced the details of Nepal’s new budget 2013/14 (2070/71 B.S.), I tried to take a few notes. Here, from the section on Agriculture and Food Security:

  • Government will implement the new  20 year Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) and the 10 year Food Security plan and help the modernization and commercialization of Nepal’s agro sector. Read about the ADS here.
  • Subsidies have been set aside for seeds and fertilizers.
  • Budget allocated to establish chemical fertilizer plants.
    Note: I had spoken to the World Bank about this in 2011 while the Agriculture Development Startegy was still being developed. At the time, they had said this about building a Chemaical Feritilzer plant in Nepal:  “If you build a factory here, you will have to bring in all the raw materials. There is a cost associated with that, and Nepal has to know what the impact will be on its budget. Is it going to be private, or public? How will it be financed, how will it be sustainable?” Acharya pointed out. “It’s just a fact that Nepal doesn’t have petroleum or the other necessities that go into fertilizer production. If the costs of those inputs grow globally, the cost of production in Nepal will increase too.” You can read the entire report here.
  • 26 Food Insecure districts (out of Nepal’s total 75 districts)  will continue to get additional subsidy for fertilizers and seeds so they can plant and harvest on time.
  • Compost programs will be introduced to 40 out of Nepal’s 75 districts.
  • 16 mid-hill districts will get maize programs.
  • 8 districts will get Orange farming improvement programs.
  • Kalikot, Mugu, Humla, Dolpa and four other western districts will receive Rs.100 subsidy /1 Apple sapling.
  • Cinnamon farmers will receive subsidy.
  • Honey farmers will receive subsidy.
  • 7,800 hectares more will get irrigation.
  • 1 Village 1 Production Program to be scaled up by 15 districts.

The Minster also said something about building a Nitrogen Plant in the country, but I missed that part. As I wrote above, this are notes I jotted down during the speech. Looking forward to more details myself.

Nothing very new in this list, and I did not hear the Minister mention climate change or extreme weather. Should crops fail due to extreme weather, is there a budget set aside? There was news over the weekend that even the nascent crop-insurance program has hit a snag. Can any country’s agriculture budget, particularly those with a significant agriculture dependent economy like Nepal’s,  afford to not emphasize and plan for climate and weather related crop-failures at this point?