Agriculture sector associations announce protests against foreign investmentThe 15 associations say that agricultural entrepreneurs’ investment would be at risk and turn them into labourers and there is no guarantee additional employment will be generated.
Fifteen different associations from the agriculture sector on Saturday announced the formation of a struggle committee and protest programmes against the government’s decision to introduce foreign investment in the agriculture sector.
The committee issuing a press statement has strongly requested the government to take back its decision to allow foreign investment in the sector as it will risk income source loss for a huge proportion of the population.
“It is sure that foreign direct investment in the agriculture sector will turn the agriculture entrepreneurs associated in the sector to labourers and it will impact the development of domestic entrepreneurship,” reads the statement.
The struggling committee coordinated by Shiva Ram KC who is also president of Nepal Egg Producers Association and among the fifteen associations are members from Federation of National Agriculture Group, Nepal Dairy Association, Central Livestock Rearing Cooperative Association, Dairy Industry Association, Agriculture Seed and Vegetable Group Nepal, Chitwan District Milk Producers Cooperative Association, Goat Traders Association, District IPM Agriculture Group, Federation of Bee Keepers, Nepal Fisheries Traders Association, Nepal Poultry Farmers Association, Chitwan Banana Producers Association.
“Why do we need foreign investment in the agriculture sector in which the country has become self-reliant such as in poultry, fisheries, beekeeping, goat rearing,” KC, the coordinator of the struggle committee said.
The committee plans to organise a peaceful protest programme, submitting a memorandum to the Ministry of Industry, Commerce and Supplies and Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development to take back the decision on the first stage.
There is no reason to bring foreign investment in the sector which has been providing employment to Nepali people, KC said.
The cabinet amended the Foreign Technology and Transfer Act, 2018 to allow foreign direct investment in agriculture with the publication of the amended Act on the National Gazette on January 4.
Right after the government decided to allow foreign direct investment in the agriculture sector, agriculture entrepreneurs and traders from the sector have been against the decision stating that foreign investment will impact their investment and affect small farmers as well.
But the government decided to introduce foreign investment aiming to increase agricultural production, enhance productivity through the latest technology in Nepal’s agriculture sector that has underperformed despite a good geographical location.
Economists and private agricultural producers have argued that foreign investment in the agriculture sector can bring the technology and investment that will result in high production, which not only fulfil domestic demand but decrease the ballooning import bill and dependency on agriculture and agriculture-related products.
“The government has said that with the introduction of foreign investment, it will introduce the technology and investment but that is not the case,” reads the statement. “It would have been better if the government had kept an account of how much investment has entered the country and what technology has been introduced from it and the advantages and disadvantages from it.”
According to the struggle committee, in the past, practices were made to allow foreign direct investment at the primary agriculture level through a different medium but with the disagreement from Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce and Industries, Nepal Chamber of Commerce and industry and traders associated in the agriculture sector and parliamentary Industry, Commerce, Labour and Consumer Welfare Committee directed not to open it in agriculture.
And as a result, the bill prepared for amendment and integration of Foreign Investment and Technology Transfer was not amended.
“There is the possibility that billions of investment by private and government sectors in the agriculture sector will be at risk with one side opening foreign investment in the agriculture sector,” said the committee. “And it will have a negative impact on employment which will create an obstacle to farmers’ livelihoods in rural areas, leading the country into high poverty.”
There is a total of Rs100.83 billion investment in the domestic agriculture industry that includes Rs4 billion investments in beekeeping, Rs11 billion investment in fisheries, Rs30 billion in dairy industry, Rs100.25 billion in poultry, Rs10 billion in goat rearing, Rs3 billion banana farming. And more than 3.5 million farmers and workers are employed in the sector, according to the struggle committee against foreign investment in agriculture.