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More than half budget of Prime Minister Agriculture Project remains unspent in Jhapa

BHADRAPUR: Like other sectors of the economy, COVID-19 has adversely impacted the agriculture sector as well.

More than half the budget the government sent to Jhapa district under the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project has remained unspent due to this. According to the Project Implementation Unit Jhapa, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development had sent Rs 77 million 75 thousand to be spent in four specific headings (zones) in fiscal year 2019/20. But of this budget, Rs 44 million 326 thousand could not be spent due to the lockdown imposed to prevent COVID-19. Only Rs 32 million 749 thousand of the total amount released for the programmes was spent. Most of the amount has been returned to the Ministry.

Four programmes, namely the Rice Super Zone, the Maize Super Zone, the Betel Nut Super Zone, and the Rubber Super Zone, are in implementation under the Project Unit in Jhapa district in the current fiscal year. the Project has been providing 50 percent subsidy to the farmers, cooperatives, and agriculture firms under the various Zones, PM Agriculture Modernisation Project Implementation Unit Jhapa’s chief Rabindra Subedi said. Aadarsha Agro Pvt Ltd of the Kankai municipality is operating combined harvester and small irrigation project by taking the grant from the Project while the East Nepal Agricultural Cooperative Limited of Kamal rural municipality, the Makhamali Farmers Group of Gauradaha and the Small Farmers Agriculture Cooperative of Maharanijhoda have set up the custom hiring centre. Only Rs 182 million 64 thousand has been spent out of the total budget of Rs 559 million 75 thousand released towards the Paddy Super Zone programme. Similarly, only Rs 5 million 972 thousand has been spent out of the total budget of Rs 11.1 million released towards the Maize Zone programme. Towards the Rubber Zone programme, only Rs 4 million 855 thousand has been spent out of the total allocated budget of Rs 10 million.

Likewise, the budget released for supporting the operation of processing industry for the Betel Nut Zone, for the go-down block construction of the Maize Zone programme, for setting up dryer and boiler for the rice mill industry of the Rice Zone programme and for installation of irrigation system based on solar energy has returned to the Ministry as it could not be spent. A budget of Rs 4 million 500 thousand, Rs 4 million, Rs 10 million and Rs 8 million respectively was released for each of the above. A team had recently carried out on-site monitoring of the programmes undertaken under the project. The team comprised of Somnath Portel, coordinator of the District Coordination Committee Jhapa, the assistant chief district officer Raj Kumar Rai, Division Forest Office chief Bishnu Lal Ghimire, the district coordinator of the Agriculture Knowledge Centre, the district coordinator of all the four Zones and journalists.

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