Econ-ity » December 29, 2013

Daily Archives: December 29, 2013

Need for Seed!

Agriculture contributes to 35% of the Nepal’s GDP and provides livelihood to nearly 76% of households. Despite this, Nepal imports huge amount of food every year. Due to agriculture’s importance in the economy, various policies that subsidize agro inputs like seeds and fertilizers with a hope that such would make the needed impact in the sector. But the negative growth rate which at present stands at 1.3% compared to 5% in 2012 paints a different picture (Nepal Rastriya Bank).

Recently, national dailies covered the news of Rautahat district and its problems in acquiring subsidized hybrid wheat seeds. The reasons quoted for this was the arbitrary distribution by the District of Agriculture appointed dealers, black market seed sale to Indian farmer by officials, administrative lax of coupon distribution without authorized signatures and delivery failure of slated amount of seeds to the district( According to news reports, out of 1800 metric ton only 260 had been delivered with no indication of when the others would reach the 1300 farmers still waiting for the seeds ( ). Some of these allegations have been corroborated by recovery of nearly 8 quintals of subsidized wheat seeds by the Armed Police force at the Border in Tilathi VDC (

National Seed Vision of 2013-25 states that nearly 90% of the seed need in Nepal is fulfilled by the informal farmer seed market ( informal seeds are saved seed from previous harvest) which are noted to hamper productivity as seeds replacement is important to ensure good produce (GoN, MoAD).

The government provides subsidy for Cereal crops seeds which are expensive and to supposedly deter people from buying low-cost seeds that would led to production failure. However, when farmers do not receive the seeds in time then they resort to buying low-cost seed or imported seeds if those are available in the market.

As per the Nepal Seed Act, it is mandatory to register imported seeds, both pollinated and hybrid. Furthermore, hybrid seeds need to have a multi-location testing for two years through the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) before they can even enter the country (GoN).

Hybridized seed usage has increased with the lack of seed and with farmer’s expectation of having a good harvest. This has had negative implications because hybrid seeds have to be tested for climate suitability and adaptability before they are used. Huge production losses in the Terai region and recently in Bhaktapur where farmers lost crops amounting to Rs 80 million exemplify the negative implications. Bhaktapur farmers had apparently used hybrid seeds prescribed by the MoAD for Terai and Inner Terai region approved in 2010 ( Seed replacement for hybrid seeds is 100% and with shortage of seeds, farmers have been found to be using them frequently leading to production failure. The reason for this is also the lack of hybrid seeds production in the country.

Despite the National Seed Policy (1999) provision for the involvement of the private parties in the seed industry, only NARC has authorization to carry out research in seed variety development and supplying breeder seed while private companies and other NGO’s involved can multiply and build foundation seed. NARC has been able to release 140 varieties of rice, maize and wheat since 1960 with only 60% rice seed and 1/3 maize and wheat (International Food Policy Research Institute 2012).

The  seed vision of MoAD ( 2013-25) has proposed the expansion of its research facilities to produce better suited hybrid seeds and increasing  seed production through public private partnership (PPP) with existing 4 seed production companies in Nepal. These steps would definitely help in fulfilling the need of seed in the Nepali market but it would surely not be enough ( GoN,Moad).

The seed industry lacks investment and since only few private companies are involved in the business the government should offer incentives and ease the registration process to attract more private investment. It also has to ensure implementation of its rules regarding truthful labeling so that farmers are not cheated with unproductive seeds. Instead of offering subsidies or coupons for distribution it should cancel it and instead focus on increasing investment in the market to meet seed production demands, increase competition and let the market supply and demand set the price. The government also needs to strengthen the marketing network in the country so that seeds are readily available everywhere and ensure that the distributors are knowledgeable about seeds to prevent production failure owing to lack of information.

About Astha Joshi

Astha completed her undergraduate degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE) and is working as a research assistant at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

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Son-ny pays what Daddy earns

sonny pays what daddy earnsFor today’s 20 odd years olds it is all but normal to have daddies who in their own 20s opted for the government jobs—and since the 80s and 90s were pretty much the times when the public enterprises were the ultimate work places, those are what most daddies yearned for—and many got in too. After all, one of the many objectives of such public enterprises was to provide a safe and secure employment to as many young and hardworking individuals as it was possible. There were the monthly salaries, the benefits and all the perks that anyone would want for their sons or sons-in-law (for that matter). And so, these enterprises pushed on year in and year out. These enterprises pushed on in terms of meeting their glorified social goal of employing as many people and working for the greater good of the people. They pushed on despite the odds, might I say.

Out of the 37 public enterprises that are still existent today most are plagued with the inadequacies that public enterprises seem to be characterized by; inefficiency, corruption, over-staffing to name a few. Though a couple of them run in profits, the truth remains that majority of these public enterprises are neck-deep in debt. The government, year in and year out, continues to bail out there enterprises—pay the staff salaries, run the management costs etc. Come to think of it, the simple fact remains that all that bailing out, all that injecting of funds comes from a source—our pockets, the taxes we all pay.

Why do I call the write-up a sonny and daddy thing you ask and I have a simple answer. Where the employment patterns of the two generations come to collide can be two-fold: one in terms of the thought pattern—while the daddy-generation thought government job was the way forth the sonny generation more so holds a belief that entrepreneurship and self-employment is the way forth. The second point of collision being—while the daddy generation are living on their perky salaries from government funds the son-ny generation are bound to put their hard earned money into the government pockets (a fraction of it to reach the daddies!).

Entrepreneurship has been the buzz word these days and as people are moving away from work-for-somebody-else model and have taken to trying, innovating things we need to not let this culture wane. This emblem of the new generation that seeks for renewed growth and prosperity needs, to the very least, be encouraged to grow and not cheat on taxes (which the current no-incentive-for-growth model encourages budding entrepreneurs to do).

On an ending note, the sonny and daddy example does not mean to incite any disregard towards the daughter and mommy duo and has been used just as a point of reference—no offence!

Anita Krishnan

About Anita Krishnan

Krishnan holds dual degrees--in law and sociology. Currently, she works as a Research Associate at Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation.

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