MIN RATNA BAJRACHARYA
The nation suffers from a trade deficit, a liquidity crisis and the people have to endure 14 hours of load shedding, but even in these times there is hope for the economy. The Central Bureau of Statistics has estimated that the economy will grow at 5.5 per cent this fiscal year, overtaking the target of 4.5 per cent.
This growth, coming after three years, is attributed to agriculture. The production of wheat grew by 11 per cent this year, rising from 4,023,000 tons to 4,500,000 tons. Though statistics are not available for maize and barley production, reports have been encouraging.
Finance secretary Rameshwor Khanal says that even if the urban economy is sluggish, the rural, agriculture-based economy will keep the economy afloat. Khanal says, "The liquidity crisis in the banking sector is a problem, but you have to remember that 70 per cent of the population still doen't have access to financial services."
Agriculture makes the highest contribution to the country's GDP, with 67 per cent of the population engaged in agriculture. Yet the development of agricultural infrastructure has not been given much importance since the first five year plan. Irrigation facilities are limited and 45 per cent of land used for wheat cultivation still depends on rainwater. Many farmers still don't have access to roads and markets and are unaware of modern agricultural methods.