Technology key to reining in agricultural imports «

Technology key to reining in agricultural imports

Surging imports of agricultural commodities indicate a tremendous potential for Nepal to expand agricultural production, according to policymakers, agri-business entrepreneurs and agriculture sector experts.
Speaking at a Roundtable Discussion on ‘Enabling Environment for Agricultural Technology Innovation and Adoption: Policy, Legislation and Practice’, they also called for a revamp of critical interventions for the deployment of productivity-enhancing technologies.
At the event organized by South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment (SAWTEE) and Winrock International, here Dr Prabhu Budhathoki, Member, National Planning Commission (NPC) said that policy interventions aimed at improving the uptake of technology appear to be driven more by the interest of bureaucrats rather than farmers’ needs. “While participatory methods are much more productive, government-supported training programmes largely exclude farmers,” he added.
Likewise, Neelu Thapa, Programme Coordinator at the SAWTEE, on the occasion, argued that a credible mapping of existing agricultural value chains is crucial for farmers’ access to credit. Stating that Nepal’s agricultural exports are being hindered by safety standards and requirements in key markets, she emphasized the urgent need to upgrade domestic testing and certification facilities.
Toya Narayan Gyawali, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce, pointed to the massive agricultural imports, exceeding one billion rupees each in over two dozen commodities. He highlighted the importance of technological learning in inducing participation in regional and global value chains.
Similarly, Dr. Hari Krishna Uprety, Communication and Publication Chief, Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), said land consolidation, currently low, is key to commercialized agriculture.
Inadequate understanding about contract farming is preventing rapid agricultural commercialization, critical for achieving import substitution and export expansion, said Sunita Nhemaphuki, an entrepreneur associated with Agri Nepal.
Dr. Krishna Prasad Pant, the agricultural economist, identified poorly trained extension services workers as a major impediment to the dissemination of technologies among farmers.
Speakers also highlighted the role of training and awareness-raising programmes, currently few and far between, in enabling farmers to use agriculture mechanization tools.
Some 20 stakeholders participated in the Roundtable.