Not giving importance where it’s due
For outsiders tourism might appear to be Nepal’s top GDP driver. Some in Nepal could think remittances sent by millions of their countrymen working abroad could be it. The correct answer however is agriculture—the backbone of economy in this Himalayan nation.
Not only does agriculture account for 36 % of the country’s GDP, but it is the biggest employer as well-providing livelihood to 66 % of the total population. But all’s not well with this sector-thanks to a delayed an erratic monsoon and scarcity of chemical fertilizers.
Paddy production in Nepal that accounts for 21 % contribution in GDP could see a drastic fall this year due to shortage of fertilizers. Delayed rainfall has already hurt farmers at the peak of the planting season, but dearth of fertilizers could break their backs.
Already reeling under a spate of bad news, Nepal’s annual growth which has remained below 5% for several years and is yet to recover from a decade-long civil war, lack of infrastructure, low industrial output and power crisis is bound to suffer if agriculture too fails.
Worried at the government’s lackadaisical attitude and failure to take corrective measures on time, agitated farmers under the banner of All Nepal Farmers Association have threatened street protests across the country if the demand supply gap is not met soon.
The annual demand for chemical fertilizers for paddy and maize cultivation in Nepal is 700,000 tonnes. But till June, Agriculture Input Company, the government agency responsible for procurement and distribution, had managed to supply just 150,000 tonnes.
Though scarcity of fertilizers is an annual issue, the country witnessed bumper harvests in the past two years helping Nepal become a food surplus country. The good news may have affected the incumbent government’s vision to address the issue early this season.
Some estimates say use of chemical fertilizers has helped Nepal increase agriculture production by nearly 40%. If that’s the case, the scarcity this year could have a drastic impact on production and even put Nepal in the list of food deficit countries again.
Besides its shortsightedness, the government is also accused of procuring fertilizers from a tainted Indian firm-Indian Potash Limited. In March, the Public Accounts Committee of parliament had suggested blacklisting this firm for supplying underweight sacks.
The government had already agreed to purchase 30,000 tonnes of Diammonium Phosphate (DAP) from IPL. But uncertainty following the PAC directive led to several months delay as AIC was unable to decide where to procure it from.
On Sunday, AIC placed an order of 11,000 tonnes of DAP with IPL ignoring the PAC directive.
Delay in supply of 12,500 tonnes of urea by another Indian firm, Minerals and Mine Trading Company, due to licensing issues is another reason for the existing scarcity. The first consignment of 2,500 tonnes of urea from MMTC is expected to arrive on Tuesday.
If the supply issues are not resolved within the next couple of weeks, Nepal’s agriculture and economy could show more worrying figures in the next fiscal.
CommentsOne Response to “Not giving importance where it’s due”
Speak Your Mind
Tell us what you're thinking...
and oh, if you want a pic to show with your comment, go get a gravatar!