On 07 May 2012, the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) celebrated its 21st Anniversary in Kathmandu. Chief Guest, Barsha Man Pun, Ministerdesignate and representative of the Honorable Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai, inaugurated the opening ceremony. Other Government authorities such as Dipendra Bahadur Kshetry, Vice Chairman of the National Planning Commission, Nathu Prasad Chaudhary, Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MoAC), and Dil Bahadur Gurung, NARC Executive Director, were also among the high level officials attending the celebration. CIMMYT-Nepal was represented by G. Ortiz-Ferrara, Country Liaison Officer, Arun K. Joshi, Head of Administration, and Nirmal Gadal, Agronomist.
The gathering brought together more than 275 scientists and development workers. “The Nepal Government is planning to raise the budget for agriculture significantly in the upcoming national budget plan” said Pun. “There is also a need to adopt enhanced technology to double agricultural production and to attract youth to the sector,” he added. Pun also mentioned that “the Prime Minister and his Government are committed to giving top priority to farming as it is the only way to alleviate poverty and ensure employment for a larger section of society”.
Kshetry stated that “in the next Governmental fiscal year, NARC and MoAC have plans to deploy large numbers of agricultural scientists and technicians in all 75 districts of the country to address farming and farmers’ problems.” Whilst Gurung highlighted that “the low seed replacement rate is one of the major factors affecting farm productivity and output. Similarly, around 70% of the farmland in the country is not irrigated and they depend on the mercy of the sky”.
On behalf of CIMMYT’s Director General, the Management, and of the CIMMYT colleagues who have worked in Nepal over the past 27 years, Ortiz-Ferrara congratulated NARC on its anniversary and thanked the Government of Nepal for their strong partnership and for hosting the South Asia regional office. He took the opportunity to brief the audience about the Nepal Borlaug Institute for South Asia (BISA) concept discussed with the management of NARC by Director General Thomas Lumpkin, during his recent visit to Nepal. “The strategic objective of BISA in Nepal is to enable NARC, CIMMYT, and its partners to deliver greater impact toward food security and livelihoods in the country,” said Ortiz-Ferrara. He also highlighted the strong endorsement given to the BISA India by the Honorable Prime Minister Man Mohan Singh and the Government of India.
In their closing remarks, Pun and Kshetry expressed the Government of Nepal’s strong interest and unconditional support for a BISA-Nepal. “Nepal is a poor country, but we have a good heart, we fully support this initiative” said Gurung. NARC and CIMMYT-Nepal scientists are currently having strategic meetings to develop a proposal and plan of action to make BISA-Nepal a reality.