We Nepalese proudly boast about Nepal being an agricultural country, but you will be astonished to hear the fact that Nepal imported farm products worth Rs. 215.50 billion in the last fiscal year. The share of the agro products in the total import bill has also swelled up to 17%.
Our dependence on foreign country has increased rapidly over the past few years. Nepal has 66% of the population directly engaged in farming. Even though more than half of the population is directly involved in this profession, basic agricultural products are also imported from foreign countries. There are various reasons behind the increment in the import of agricultural products in our country. The main factors leading to this situation are the rapid increase in the population as well as the increase in the number of youths opting for foreign jobs. Most of the hardworking, as well as the skilled youths, are abroad leaving only the children and elderly people behind. How can we expect of development in our country when the great and active minds who can work relentlessly are not there?
People migrate from the villages to the towns seeking different opportunities. The fields remain barren in the villages while the town is full of people and houses. Agriculture in Nepal has since long been based on the subsistence as well as the traditional way of farming. The traditional method of farming will not be able to address the needs and demands of all the people. The unplanned urbanization is also the prime reason behind this. The arable fields are being used to construct tall buildings and industries. The main areas are overcrowded with people, houses and vehicles leaving not even a single place to breathe fresh air. The towns are overcrowded with none or very little agricultural production. And talking about the villages they have been deserted by the people. As Nepal is prone to many types of disasters, the farmers are likely to suffer if there is draught or the flood. So, farmers have to bear a massive loss. The population is increasing at a breakneck speed in Nepal which means there are more mouths to be fed. So, the production does not meet the demand of the current period.
We Nepalese do not promote professions like farming, agriculture etc which supports around 1/ 3rd part of the GDP. We have not realized yet the value and the importance of this profession in our society. Without them, we would die of hunger. To increase the production of different goods we need to promote our younger generation to work in this area. We need to share the importance of this profession in our country’s economy as well as provide mentorship and guidance. People will go to work in an alien country rather than doing something in their own country. We need to stop the youngsters from going abroad by creating a favorable environment for all of them.
Rather than relying on the same old methods of farming, we need to apply the new technologies to increase production. The farmers might face a huge loss due to different natural disasters. So, they need to be made aware of different types of insurances which will help lessen their burden. There need to be also provisions of providing soft loan to the farmers with very fewer interests. This will not only help them establish a new business but promote it. There is not enough market for the crops produced in the rural areas due to lack of transportation facilities. The crops sometimes even rot in the places where they are grown. If proper transportation facilities, as well as markets, are available here in Nepal farmers will also get the real value of their goods which they had been selling at a cheaper cost. We need to produce a surplus amount of goods so that it is enough for all the people as well as we will be able to export them the foreign countries.
In 2017, Nepal exported $803M and imported $9.6B, resulting in a negative trade balance of $8.75B. This is a huge difference and we cannot fill the gap overnight but it’s not impossible as well if we are consistent and get proper support from the government as well. All we need a vision and a good mindset to succeed in this area.