One of the three duties of the government, said Adam Smith, is to build and maintain public institutions for the welfare of common people. Accordingly, a government is expected to provide education, health, clean water and other such basic facilities to all its citizens. But the perception of Nepal over the world is that of a poor country where the majority of the population still lives below the poverty line, without even bare minimum essentials. Not all the inclement elements are within human control. Nepal has one of the most difficult terrains in terms of guaranteeing access to basic services. Frequent natural calamities make things worse. With almost no workable flood and landslide reduction strategy, the poor lose the little land they hold, bit by precious bit. Entire families are displaced. Even in the normal course of things, unscientific agriculture methods severely restrict crop cultivation. As a result, agriculture sector growth rate was a dismal three percent last year. Paucity of local production means huge amount of revenue is lost in importing goods. But that is a different story altogether. As a party to International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Nepal has a legal obligation to ensure its citizens’ right to education, housing, a decent standard of living and health, among others. But it really shouldn’t take signing up an international covenant to ensure citizen rights.
Powerful images have been pouring out of Ukraine lately: Kyiv’s Maidan protesters bravely enduring months of bitter cold, withering police attacks, and sniper bullets; the gilded bathroom fixtures of deposed President Viktor Yanukovych’s opulent personal residence; a wheelchair-bound Yuliya Tymoshenko emerging from prison to address her countrymen in a broken voice. And now Russian troops in the streets of Crimea’s cities.
At a time when Europe’s self-confidence is at low ebb, Ukrainians’ courageous struggle to topple a rotten political system is a powerful reminder of Europe’s core values. The question now is what Europeans will do about it.
The declaration of the Nepal Economic Summit 2014 held with an aim of attracting domestic and foreign investment stresses on the need to complement contract farming through an incentive mechanism for high value products with competitive advantage. The high value agricultural commodities having competitive advantage are citrus, apples, tea, coffee, cardamom, ginger, medicinal and aromatic plants, vegetable seed, off-season vegetables, goat, poultry, fishery, beekeeping and dairy. When we talk of incentive in agriculture, people generally understand subsidy, but it is more than that. Here incentives mean any initiative taken for the development of agriculture that encourages farmers, entrepreneurs and investors.
Agriculture sector is the center of the Nepali economy which contributes 35 percent to GDP and directly employs 66 percent people. However, public investment in this sector has averaged 2.5 percent of total expenditure. Thus, there is a big gap (88 percent) between the income (Agriculture GDP) and investment. Since return is directly proportional to investment, the agriculture productivity is very low. In other words, if investment is increased the return from agriculture is also expected to increase. It is worth noting that investment in agriculture has multiplier effect. High growth in this sector will trigger growth in other sectors too. The government should, therefore, create an enabling environment for the investors in high value agriculture.