The recently announced Indian budget has allocated a significant grant for agriculture, and this has prompted Nepali agricultural experts to campaign for similar allotments in our upcoming budget as well. The argument is that Indian subsidies will make their products cheaper, causing them to flood the Nepali market. "The government must start doing its homework," says agricultural scientist Deb Bhakta Shakya. "Even if the government is unable to provide a grant as large as the Indian government did, there must be some provisions."
A senior scientist of Nepal Agriculture Research Council agrees that cost is a major factor in why Nepali agricultural products have not been able to compete with Indian ones. "The upcoming budget should allocate at least one percent of the total sum for agricultural research," he says. "The past investment in researching maize and wheat has yielded around 40 percent returns."
Agriculture experts say the government should focus on equipping the agriculture sector and the establishment of an agriculture gene bank. Currently, Nepal has stored seeds of over 2,000 species of rice in overseas gene banks. Agriculture contributes 40 percent of Nepal's GDP and Nepal's rice production has grown by a record 8 percent in this fiscal year. But this figure could have been higher if there had been adequate investment in the agriculture sector.