By Mukunda Gaire, Kathmandu, Jan. 12: Discussions as to whether or not to introduce foreign investment in the agriculture sector have started after the government permitted Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the agriculture sector.
The farmers have been voicing that introducing foreign investment for agriculture would affect the small farmers. Various farmers' associations have been protesting against the government's decision to facilitate foreign investment.
"It would be great if the foreign investments in the agriculture sector are permitted upon certain conditions," said Chandra Mani Adhikari, a senior economist adding, "First of all, the government should make sure that additional capital, technology, and skills would be introduced in the agricultural scenario of Nepal upon permitting foreign investment."
Adhikari added that it was vital to bring foreign employment by guaranteeing compulsory participation from Nepal industrialists. "For example, permission for processing, production, and distribution of Nepali tea in the international market should be provided to foreign investors with a condition to ensure the involvement of the private sectors of Nepal," he added.
"Furthermore, the approval for FDI in all sectors should be limited to certain terms and conditions. If approval is given without being subjected to any limitations, our originality and products will be at stake," said Adhikari.
He asserted that if foreign investment is permitted in all sectors of agriculture, it would have a long-term effect on the Nepali economy. "Thus, conditional permission is necessary for the benefit of Nepal," added Adhikari.
Meanwhile, Khem Bahadur Pathak, Chairman of Nepal Agriculture Co-operative Central Federation said that foreign investment in agriculture was vital in Nepal at the moment.
"If huge investments are made, then modern technology and skills will also be introduced in Nepal. Likewise, currently, the farmers are facing difficulties due to unavailability of cold stores, market, and agricultural roads," said Pathak. "If huge investments are made in the agricultural sector, Nepali products will be able to compete in the international market."
The farmers are hugely affected due to the lack of enough agriculture and livestock technicians. "Thus, the foreign investments shall be done in a transparent manner with effective implementation of the policies," said Pathak.
He added, "If small farmers can be added to the network, the foreign investments will not affect them much."
Moreover, Shiva Ram KC, Chairman of Nepal Egg Producers' Association said that as Nepali entrepreneurs are self-reliant in the poultry field, foreign investment in the poultry sector was not necessary. "The chickens, eggs, and meats produced in Nepal can rather be exported abroad," he added.
Similarly, the Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Confederation of Nepali Industries have also revealed their views on the matter.
"Foreign investment is necessary for the nation, the assurances made by the government in the past for the promotion of such investment must be fulfilled first," said the FNCCI and CNI.
They have demanded holding mandatory consultations with the private sectors while formulating or amending plans, policies, and directives relating to foreign investment.