Stakeholders stress need to utilise agro technology

Private sector players have urged government for a congenial environment to attract investment from the private sector and bring in modern technology to scale up agriculture production stating that Nepal’s agriculture base will be distorted due to low-cost agro products imported from other countries.

Speaking in a programme titled ‘Adoption of Innovative Technology in Agriculture in Nepal’ organised by the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FNCCI) in the presence of Minister for Agriculture and Livestock Development Chakrapani Khanal, FNCCI President Bhawani Rana said that the country’s agriculture sector has been lagging behind at the subsistence level since long due to fragmentation of land and lack of proper extension services, irrigation facilities, financing, research and development, innovation and technology, improved seeds, fertilisers and forward linkages, among others.

The agriculture sector that is facing multiple problems can be transformed by addressing the aforementioned challenges through the collaborative efforts of the government, farmers and private sector, Rana stressed.

Gyanendra Lal Pradhan, treasurer of FNCCI, underscored that the country should focus on the production of agro products that have niche market advantage and reap benefits from exports. “We cannot be competitive in all the products and this is why we should take advantage by importing cheaper commodities and focusing on high-value production in the country by bringing in new technology and making producers and processors familiar with it.”

Citing an example of rice, Pradhan said Nepal can never be competitive in production of rice when India and China are heavily subsidised.

Sumit Kedia, managing director of Sitaram Gokul Milk, underpinned that the government’s policy programme should be output oriented and there should be a vision to scale up production and economise the cost of production. “The execution of certain policies and strategies should be measurable in results, however, the government is largely process oriented than results.”

Tyler Marshall and Brijesh Kamani, founder and co-founder of EYC Lab, respectively, jointly presented a paper on how agriculture production can be automated to take advantage of economies of scale. They expressed concern on the lack of adaptation of technology at various levels of production and have suggested the government to gradually make farmers able to adopt to technology that is being developed at present.

Meanwhile, Minister Khanal laid emphasis on adopting technology to enhance production and divert the workforce engaged in agriculture to other sectors. “Agro sector is still considered as a low income sector and use of technology to cope with existing challenges and emerging challenges like climate change is a must to transform sector.”