Rajaram Karki, KATHMANDU: The ‘agriculture diary’ the government published this year has mentioned that 1.3 million hectares of arable land is left uncultivated. A total of 3.9 million hectares land is arable in Nepal. A hectare of land is equivalent to 20 ropanis of land as per the Nepali unit of measuring land.
On the other hand, nearly 4 million Nepali youths are working in 84 countries for livelihood and better life.
These two data gives grim picture. It also reminds the opinion of the iconic leader BP Koirala, who had told an interview with the BBC world service some five decades back in Britain that the arable lands in rural area are left uncultivated as long as the youths center in cities. He had argued that the demands of the rural people must be addressed to retain youths in villages.
He underscored the need to create environment which retain youths in rural area. It, as he said, boosts rural agriculture.
But, as the present data shows, the condition is exactly reverse the muscular youths are leaving country for foreign jobs leaving tens of thousands hectares of land uncultivated. The villagers were in need of agricultural road to supply easily it to market. The milk, honey, fruits, goats and vegetables produced at local levels could be transported to cities. It could help not only sustain daily life but also make good income for the rural youths. But, it did not happen so.
It was too late as hundreds of thousand youths left the country for foreign job; the government realized and brought the rules and Act.
Former Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Chakrapani Khanal said, “Arable lands are plotted and land pooling continued unabated. Now, if anyone wishes to run an agricultural farm, it is difficult to integrate the lands.”
The State has not been able to ensure the access of agricultural roads in appropriate locations, proper market, irrigation management arrangements and an easy flow of agricultural loan for the sustainable development of agriculture in the long term.
As a result, arable land has been divided into small pieces thus turning it unproductive in the name of land plotting by land mafias. Rampant land plotting has been the means of amassing income for land mafias, but it goes uncontrolled. Even public land is being captured in the name of plotting. Livestock business is under threat in lack of sufficient pasture land because of the capture of such land in the name plotting.
In a period 55 years (since the enforcement of the Land Reform Act-2021 BS to 2076 BS), Nepal got 35 agricultural ministers. But the agriculture production rate is decreasing.
According to the Agricultural Census 2068 BS, the contribution of agricultural sector to the Gross Domestic Product was 32 percent. Now it is further reduced to 27 percent.
Rural agricultural economy is capable of playing a significant role in the development of Nepal. Government shows no noticeable initiation for land pooling. The government in the budget for the fiscal year 2074-75 BS floated a plan of making the country fully self-sufficient on food in the next five years, but the situation went opposite. According to Secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr Yubak Dhwaj GC, food import went by two-fold than the production in this period.
The government has brought a plan to make the country fully self-reliant on food grain until Fiscal year 2021/22.
The production of the country’s major staple crop paddy has increased by 460 thousand metric tonnes while the import of rice has also increased by 767 thousand metric tonnes on the other hand.
The Land Act, 2021BS has made provisions for land pooling through exchange of land, collective farming by cooperatives and community, taking land on lease, the federal government and local government taking land and distributing it to the farmers, arrangements for single person to cultivate a piece of land and integration of fragmented land.
However, the topics mentioned in the Land Act and Regulations are not found fully implemented till now. The Land-related Rule, 2021BS has determined the minimum unit of agricultural land at 350 square metres and the urban housing and commercial land at 85 square metres for the Tarai and Inner Tarai region.
Similarly, the minimum agricultural land has been determined at 250 square metres and at 80 square metres for urban and commercial purposes inside the Kathmandu Valley. The minimum land determined for agriculture purposes in other hilly region is 125 square metres and 80 square metres for urban and commercial purposes. RSS
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