Agriculture Knowledge Centre in Baitadi faces human resource crunchDarchula locals also have to travel to Baitadi to seek government services.
With the adoption of federalism two years ago, many in Darchula were excited that they could now avail of all government services from their own villages. But things haven’t gone as planned, and many locals say they still have to travel to another district to even open a bank account.
Manoj Kunwar of Chandakot in Byas Rural Municipality said he recently travelled to Baitadi to acquire a reference letter to open a bank account. As the procedure goes, one needs to acquire a signed letter from the chief of Agriculture Knowledge Centre, which is located in Baitadi.
Many locals are signing up for the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project (PMAMP), a programme that aims to make the country self-reliant in agricultural production, for which it’s mandatory to have a bank account, said Kunwar. “We have founded a group to implement the programmes under Potato Pocket Area,” Kunwar said. “It’s a Rs 500,000 project but we need to move back and forth to Baitadi many times.”
To reach Baitadi and return, locals of Byas have to allocate at least three days. “We can return home on the third day, if things operate smoothly,” said Mansingh Bohara, a local of Duhu in Darchula.
Darchula itself does have an office of Agriculture Knowledge Centre, but the office is currently empty, with the officials extending their leaves. The office space is shared by Apple Zone Programme, another programme under PMAMP.
“Many people come to our office daily to enquire about the Agriculture Knowledge Centre but we are not in contact with officials of the centre,” said Bishnu Prasad Ojha, chief of the Apple Zone Programme. “It’s been about two months since I haven’t seen any officials from the centre here.”
Karna Bahadur Chand, chief of the Centre based in Baitadi, said that his office couldn’t deploy officials in Darchula because of a shortage of manpower. “An office assistant is taking care of the office there, but the official is currently on leave, so it’s vacant,” Chand said.
Further, the locals of Darchula have also had to travel to Baitadi to seek other services related to animal husbandry and drinking water, among others.
Karib Bahadur Karki, chief of District Coordination Committee, said that the offices in Baitadi need to send representatives to Darchula. “In the Agriculture Knowledge Centre, three technical assistants have to oversee both the districts,” he said. The centre has a vacancy for 16 employees but currently, only seven are employed. Officials at the Centre said that they are having trouble overseeing the projects in villages across Baitadi, let alone Darchula, because of manpower shortage.
The centre has launched 43 programmes in Darchula and 52 in Baitadi, with a budget of 180 million. “The programmes are plenty but there’s a shortage of manpower,” Chand, the chief of the centre, said. “These districts are itself geographically remote so it’s difficult to properly monitor the projects. On top of that, we have only a few people at the office.”