Local government in land-agriculture reform – Online Khabar

About two thirds of Nepal’s population is directly or indirectly involved in agriculture. The contribution of agriculture to the GDP has come down to 24.5 percent. But it is not enough to look at the contribution made by the agricultural sector to GDP alone.

It is an important base for many sectors including employment, food security, environment, tourism. The increase in agricultural imports in recent years is unnatural. The annual import of around Rs 4 trillion including fruits, vegetables, nuts and food grains is a matter of great shame for an agricultural country.

The basis of Nepal’s overall prosperity is the development of land and agriculture. The development of the agricultural sector is also reliable to end poverty by ensuring the right to food of the citizens. But due to low access of real farmers to agricultural land, inadequacy of irrigation, seeds and fertilizers, weak presence of farmers in the market, increasing immigration, etc., the agricultural sector has not been able to rise.

The big problem is the confusion of understanding whether the agricultural sector is on the corporate path or the farmer path. Contrary to the spirit of the constitution, the efforts of the government, multi-party and bilateral donors, most of the non-governmental organizations, etc. are focused on taking agriculture away from the hands of farmers and handing it over to traders in the name of modernization. This will make Nepal worse off than it is now and will further increase inequality, unemployment and hunger in the society.

Local government is an important opportunity for us to meet the current challenges of land, agriculture and food and to promote farming. In the past when the policy and programmatic efforts made by the center have almost failed, it is possible to improve the sector if the local level can implement the program in accordance with the environment of its village and municipality. And some local levels have made promising efforts in this regard.

Now the traditional reforms made and to be done by the union are not enough. This area needs structural transformation. One of its basic strategies is the localization of land and agricultural reforms.

For this, the first and basic task to be done at the local level is an in-depth environmental analysis of land and agriculture. How much land is available at your local level? How much of this can be used for agriculture? What is the state of use?

How many landless families are there? What is the condition of farmers? What is the status of food availability? What food items are being imported? What are the exports? Policy and program should be decided on the basis of the study and analysis of the environment through participatory method process with the participation of the community.

The issue of maintaining sole or joint ownership of land by women farmers also needs to be taken up by the local level as part of its program. It is also a question of social justice for women farmers.

With such study and analysis, promotional programs for agricultural development can be extended to the target group. The Land Act, Rules and Procedures of the Land Commission also include the responsibility of collecting information for real data including landless dalits, landless squatters, unorganized settlers, land and land use in their villages and municipalities, verifying the information, computerizing the details and getting approval from the municipality. It has been made clear that there will be a level.

The land use plan and its implementation is a matter of great importance to prevent the construction structures including houses being built indiscriminately and the widespread non-agriculturalization and subdivision of arable land. Considering this fact, the Land Use Act 2076 has been formulated.

Recently, the government has also issued land use regulations. Accordingly, there is a provision to form land use council at the local level and formulate and implement land use plan. Therefore, it is necessary for the local government to make land use a top priority.

Classification of land for land use is not easy. It also takes time. But even if not much can be done at the beginning, it is possible for each local level to zoning agricultural land and prevent non-agricultural use of that land. This is also an issue related to the right to food.

Every local level needs to resolve to produce its own food at its local level. While not all local levels are fully self-sufficient, the resolution paves the way for a balance between imports and exports.

For this, a campaign should be launched to keep the private or government agricultural land barren. A policy should be taken to identify government, public and remaining lands and make them available to the landless for use.

Due to the diverse geography, climate and culture, we have the bitter reality of not implementing the policies and laws at the central level effectively. Therefore, the local level can be implemented by making local land act, farmer empowerment and agricultural promotion act etc. within its own jurisdiction.

If the municipality manages the processing centers so that the produce produced by the farmers can be brought to the market only after processing at least the first stage, the employment can be increased and the farmers can get better price than now.

The government has provided special exemption in land registration to increase women’s ownership of land. Similarly, an arrangement has been made to pay Rs. 100 for making joint parts. The issue of maintaining sole or joint ownership of land by women farmers also needs to be taken up by the local level as part of its program. It is also a question of social justice for women farmers. Studies have shown that it also plays an important role in reducing current domestic violence.

Article 7 of the Right to Food and Food Sovereignty Act, 2075 provides for the Government of Nepal, the State Government or the local level to provide free food aid to the targeted households at a concessional price and to the targeted households of special nature as prescribed.

Due to this, distribution of food aid identity cards and ensuring food aid to the poor, landless and marginalized extremely poor families also becomes important. In the case of working families, increasing access to barren land will be more sustainable.

In essence, the local level should be able to make proper use of its local level land, natural resources and manpower, in addition to using only its own income, revenue, grants from the union or the state. Without sustainable use of available resources, programs based on grants alone will only increase dependency.

This issue is well understood by the local elected representatives. It is also mentioned in the election manifesto. The issue of land and agriculture must be given priority in the policies, programs and budgets being formulated now. Agriculture will not prosper without localization of agriculture.

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