Four projects worth $134 million to give farm sector shot in the arm


The government has approved four major donor-funded projects worth US$ 134 million in the agriculture sector that aims to boost livestock and food production, address climate change and environmental issues and enhance communication technology.

Of the total amount, donors have provided US$ 101.5 million in grants and soft loans and the rest has been mobilized by the government and the beneficiaries. The Ministry of Agriculture Development is the implementing agency of all the projects.

The four donor-funded projects are the Improved Seeds for Farmers Programme (ISFP) funded by the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), Zoonoses Control Project (ZCP) and the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) funded by the World Bank and the Nepal Agriculture Food Security Project (NAFSP) under the Global Agriculture and Food Security Programme (GAFSP) of the Global Agriculture Fund.

Although all these projects were scheduled to be implemented from the beginning of the current fiscal year, it did not happen due to delays in budget presentation. “The government finally approved the projects last Friday even though the budget was announced on Nov 20, 2012,” said an official at the Agriculture Ministry.

According to ministry spokesperson Prabhakar Pathak, the ISFP is a US$ 59.7 million project that will run for seven years

covering six districts — four in the Mid-Western and two in the Western region. It aims to benefit 750,000 farmers or 150,000 households directly and 300,000 households indirectly in the first phase.

The IFAD has extended a loan and grant of US$ 39 million for the ISFP, one of the biggest projects it has implemented so far. The rest of the amount has been arranged by the government and the beneficiaries.

The programme has envisaged increasing agriculture production by 15 percent and livestock growth by 20 percent year on year thereby decreasing child malnutrition by 20 percent in the selected districts.

Under agriculture production, it aims to involve 13 private seed companies in the production of 760 tonnes of improved varieties of paddy seeds, 830 tonnes of maize seeds, 1,660 tonnes of wheat seeds and 500 tonnes of vegetable seeds.

The other component of the programme will support smallholder livestock commercialization in goat breeding and dairy production. “The programme will be extended to other districts if it is found to be satisfactory during the mid-term evaluation,” Pathak said.

Meanwhile, the objective of the ZCP is to enhance institutional capacity on the prevention and control of infectious diseases that transmit from animals to humans. The total project cost is estimated to be US$ 10 million and will run for two years.

According to Pathak, under this project, the Nepal government and the World Bank will work on “one health approach” model that aims to minimize the threat posed by the emergence of new diseases to both human and animal health, particularly potential zoonoses.

Money for the project, which has been made available under the European Trust Fund, had been earlier allocated to Sri Lanka was later diverted to Nepal through a fast-track approach, government officials said.

Likewise, the five-year PPCR project under a World Bank grant of US$ 6 million will be implemented in 25 districts. The project will support five different components including agriculture management system and meteorology and hydrology system in Nepal.

The US$ 58 million NAFSP project was awarded to Nepal in June 2011 on a competitive basis. The GAFSP is a multilateral mechanism to assist implementation of pledges made by the G8 to address the under-funding of countries and regional agriculture and food security strategic investment plans already being developed by countries in consultation with donors and other stakeholders at the country level.

The Nepal government will add US$ 11.5 million to the project. The project will help Nepal to enhance food security in 19 food-deficit hill districts in the Far and Mid-Western regions. Although the project was awarded to Nepal in 2011, it was not implemented as the ministry was doing a detailed project formulation and design.

According to Pathak, both the full design and negotiation for the project has been finalized, and the ministry will soon sign an agreement for execution of the project. The programme is focused on boosting production and productivity and enhancing market access including building infrastructure and farm commercialization. More than 150,000 households are expected to benefit from the project.

Agro experts said that the food crisis of 2008 prompted donors to get back to the farm sector after the donor community realized that investing in agriculture was the key to reducing poverty and hunger in developing countries.

Donor support to agriculture started to decline from the mid-1990s following economic liberalization which coincided with the government’s discontinuing farm subsidies. The agriculture sector used to receive 17-18 percent of the official development assistance (ODA) till the Seventh Five-Year Plan (1985-90) which plunged to 3.8 percent in 2006.

Early warning system planned

According to the Ministry of Agriculture Development, the aim of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience Project is to monitor climate conditions and issue warnings of natural hazards. It will enable farmers to be prepared for climate risk management through an early warning system. The ministry said that such a warning and early communication system was important for farmers who have been suffering every year. The system will forecast drought, flood and rainfall, among other natural disasters, that will enable farmers to get early information. For example, if the farmers are provided an early warning about an impending drought, they can plant drought resilient crops. The system will also help the farmers to adapt to bad weather conditions.

Posted on: 2013-01-18 09:01