Governance of Agriculture Service Delivery in Nepal: Status, Issues, and Challenges

Laxmi Kant Paudel's picture
Abstract: 
Governance is a prerequisite for managing the service delivery functions that can only be ensured through high accountability and transparency on the part of the government, local bodies and effective participation of the people. The Nepalese government has created different public service delivery mechanisms to make an effective service provision to the public, however, the promises are found to be difficult to achieve. In addition, the government has created four basic broad modes of service delivery: direct delivery of services, privatization of service delivery, alternative service delivery models, and decentralization of services, especially to local government bodies. In such a context, agriculture service delivery is one of the important components of public service delivery as the Nepalese economy by the end of the Eleventh Three Year Plan is still characterized by sustenance agriculture. Furthermore, agriculture contributes to around two-fifths of the GDP and 74% of the population still depends on it for their livelihood. Despite critical contributions from the agriculture sector towards poverty reduction, investment in this sector has declined markedly. The government has made some efforts to implement agriculture policy with decentralized efforts by creating service centers throughout the 75 districts of the country. In this context, it is relevant to question: Are agriculture service delivery agencies at grassroots able to serve the people as expected? To examine this question, this study attempted to find out the status of service delivery mechanisms, issues and challenges of agriculture service delivery by reviewing the progress reports, and relevant service documents of these service centers to generate information. The finding of this study suggests that although significant efforts have been made by the agriculture service delivery system, there still exist several problems and issues that require due attention for more efficient and effective service delivery.
Main Article: 

1. Introduction

Nepal has already celebrated the golden jubilee to mark its formal entry into the welfare state by declaring delivery of public services to its people through a planned development effort introduced in 1956. So far, ten Five Year Plans and one Three Year Interim Plan have been executed and the Second Three Year Interim Plan (2010-2013) is in process, the major concentration during the planned periods has been on alleviating poverty. As there is a sea change in the Nepalese political system--from constitutional monarchy to a republic, it has to match its program with Comprehensive Peace Accord, directive principles and policies of the Interim Constitution of Nepal, 2007, common minimum program of the coalition Government (TYIP, 2010).

At the regional level, it is estimated that neighboring countries like India and China have achieved 6.7 per cent and 9.0 per cent of economic growth rates in 2008 and 7.2 and 8.7 per cent in 2009 respectively. In such a context, Nepal, a small country situated between two giants, faces critical problems like poverty, unemployment and so on. The government has claimed that the past periodic plans have resulted in considerable achievements in the development of physical infrastructure and the social sector, however, no expected changes have been observed in the living standards of the people, strategies as per their expectation (TYIP, 2010:2). After the People’s Movement of 2006, the TYIP has come with a vision of prioritizing to ensure the reconstruction of physical infrastructures, such as electricity, roads, irrigation and communication to support agriculture, tourism and industry, and to the development of human resources through education, health, drinking water and sanitation. The average annual growth of agriculture was expected to be 3.6 per cent; however, due to adverse climatic condition in the third year of the plan, the growth rate in agriculture sector was only 1.05. Likewise, ineffective and inefficient service mechanism and administrative procedure did not only obstruct the agriculture delivery process but also immensely affected national economy (Thapa, 2010). In this backdrop, this study tries to find out the governance status of agriculture service delivery system in Nepal.

1.2 Research Problem

Nepal is a late starter in providing public services to the general people, as it basically began in the 1950s after the fall of the autocratic Rana regime. For governing and providing public services, Nepal is divided into five development regions, 14 zones, 75 districts, 927 Areas, 3915 VDCs and 58 municipalities. Most of the ministries have their branch offices at the regional and district level, which have very crucial roles in service delivery down to the VDC level. The Nepalese government has been providing various public services such as postal service, agriculture service, health service, education, infrastructure development etc. to the grassroots level through various line agencies and local development bodies. The performance of public service system has been mixed as some service sector performed well, while a number of other sectors need new strategies and efforts to produce positive results (Shah, 2009). Due to broad-based growth of the Nepalese economy, public service delivery remained lower than what was expected.

Agriculture sector is one area that is not only keeping the health of the national economy but also has become subsistence of the majority of the Nepalese people. Over 74 per cent of the people still live in rural areas, and subsistence agriculture is their mainstay. In such a context, this study has attempted to find out the status, issues, and challenges of the governance of agriculture service delivery center of Dhading district.

1.3 Methodology Applied

The methodology used in this study is exploratory-analytical. It combines both primary and secondary sources of data. To find out the status of service delivery, 10 key informants of agriculture service center and 20 service seekers were interviewed to substantiate secondary information by using semi-structured interview. The secondary data and information were obtained from various published and unpublished sources.

1.4 Conceptualizing Governance and Service Delivery

1.4.1 Governance Concepts

The notion of governance is not a novel concern. It is as old as history both in eastern and western philosophies as it is traced back to Valmiki and Kautilya and the thinking of Plato and Aristotle (Maheswori, 2000). The term ‘good governance’ has been in immense usage after the World Bank Report in 1989 on the development of African and Sub Saharan countries which used ‘good governance as small government’. In the modern society governance has become a central aspect of people’s aspiration, administrative goal and the agenda of civil society. The World Bank (1996) states good governance as relating future oriented open policies, developing professional bureaucracy, transparent and accountable government, effective service delivery, strong civil society and rule of law. Furthermore, the four pillars of governance are accountability, transparency, predictability and participation. 

Good governance is fair, good and managed government, which emphasizes its action against all sorts of ills in the political, financial, judiciary, social service and human rights. UNDP (1996) defines fifteen different elements of good governance. They are: rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, equity, common consensus, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, strategic thinking, legality, resource caution, and proper environmental, capability, cooperativeness and community orientation.

In such a context, governance is not just about government. It is also about political parties, parliament, the judiciary, the media, and civil society. It is about how citizens, leaders and public institutions relate to each other in order to make change happen. So, governance requires three things (DFID, 2006:20):

State capability: the extent to which governments and leaders are able to get things done.

Responsiveness: whether public policies and institutions respond to the needs of citizen and uphold their rights.

Accountability: the ability of the citizens, civil society and the private sector to scrutinize public institutions and governments and hold them to account. This includes ultimately the opportunity to change leaders by democratic means.

The government in its Second Three Year Plan (NPC, 2010) has emphasized on good governance by making public service delivery effective, increasing transparency, participation, accountability, predictability and legitimacy in the operation of state management and development affairs. Therefore, it is necessary to make service delivery effective by making necessary reforms in the administrative areas and guaranteeing the people good governance. In this context, efforts have been continued to translate the basic principles and assumptions of good governance into practice through the formulation and implementation of laws (legislations) including Good Governance (Management and Operation) Act 2007, Civil Service Act 1993, Local Self-Governance Act 1999, Corruption Alleviation Act 1992, Public Procurement Act 2007 and Right to Information Act 2007. The Plan has also envisioned making administrative mechanism reliable, result-oriented, accountable and competent to support the process of nation-building and sustainable development. It is to make the public administration disciplined and legitimately effective with clearly defined roles and responsibilities for making the functions of formulation, implementation and evaluation of public policy effectual including public service delivery and for making public administration fair, competitive, transparent, result-oriented, competent, inclusive and sensitive to address people's needs and aspirations. One of the main objectives of the government is to make  public service delivery fair, transparent and effective ensuring the environment to receive qualitative public services fairly, compatibly, legally and timely by the targeted groups, make the public service inclusive making the provision of providing equal opportunities for service entry to the eligible and interested individuals of all classes and communities and  regulate, monitor and enhance the capacity of private, co-operatives nongovernment and civil society organizations, involved in the functions of quality determination, production and distribution of public services and commodities.

Since the mid 1970s, governments have been heavily concerned with adopting and developing the structure and value for the service in order to achieve greater efficiency, more responsive and flexible services. New services pay off by reducing costs and improving service delivery and today effective public services is not an issue of political ideology as one of good governance and managerial expediency. Grassroots governance focuses more on decentralization on decision making, budget allocation and optimum level of public participation and satisfaction in service delivery. To strengthen the concept of governance, the Nepalese government has been trying to concentrate on grassroots governance in various sectors. Among them, agriculture service delivery is one area which has direct relationship between the service provider and service receiver as it effects the life of the people directly at the grassroots.

1.4.2 Definitional Context of Service Delivery

The delivery of services is a set of institutional arrangements adopted by the government to provide public goods and services to its citizens (OECD, 2008). Therefore, it is the specific institutional arrangements that critically influence the performance of public service delivery. There are four basic broad modes of public service delivery arrangements that governments everywhere have adopted (DFID, 2004; Shah, 2010).

Direct Delivery of Services

The central government brings out legislation, enforces it, hires staff, invests, produces and distributes services, either directly operating from the headquarters or through deconcentrated line agencies, assumes full responsibility, and is accountable not only for provisioning but also for delivering services. Retaining power within itself, the government also adopts different sub-arrangements for the actual delivery. Other than direct delivery of services such as public health care, it creates public corporate enterprises and delegates to them the production and delivery functions. The Agriculture Inputs Corporation, which distributes farm inputs, and the Nepal Food Corporation which distributes subsidized food grains are examples.

Privatization of Service Delivery

The government transfers the delivery of public services to private companies. In this case, it assumes no responsibility except for monitoring the company's compliance to legal codes. In many countries, transportation and communication services are privatized. The basic rationale of privatization is to gain advantage of allocative efficiency of the market mechanism and meet resource gaps by mobilizing private sector investment in the public services sector.

Alternative Service Delivery Models

In the arena of public service delivery, "alternative service delivery" models are relatively recent phenomena. They are a marriage between the government and private sector with different contractual arrangements. The most common alternative service delivery models are:

  • Contracting in/out services to the private sector for services such as transporting food, operating dormitories, etc.,
  • Contracting out services to non-government organizations (NGOs) such as for literacy campaigns, etc.,
  • Franchising, for example the postal service,
  • Licensing for information dissemination,
  • Partnership among local governments with regard to meeting the need for large scale service production, and partnerships between the government and local bodies for sharing complex technical capacities, 7 Joint UNDP-Government of Germany: Evaluation of UNDP Role in Decentralization and Local Governance, Working Paper, October 1999.
  • BOOT (Build-Own-Operate-Transfer) and BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) systems such as for roads or subways,
  • Public-private partnership: This is the latest mode for service delivery where the government and the private sector/NGOs enter into co-operative agreements, which include shared objectives.

In all such cases, the final ownership is generally vested with the government, and it retains the power to provision public services, whereas private parties make the actual delivery.

Decentralization of Services: Local Government Bodies

Decentralization of service delivery functions to local government bodies is the most popular mode in most countries. Decentralization is based on subsidiary principles of governance; a rule where provisioning, production and delivery of services are to be devolved to the lowest governmental tier, local bodies, subject to economies of scale and capacity. By virtue of being closest to the citizens, local bodies are better positioned to match supply of a given service to citizens' demands, transforming citizens from service recipient to client, and ensuring citizens greater accountability for service quality. Decentralization of service delivery is not a new concept in Nepal. The enactment of the Local Self-Governance Act 1999 has been an important milestone towards continuous move towards decentralized systems of governance and public service delivery. The Government is initiating the devolution of a number of service delivery areas to the local bodies. The trolley bus service, an urban mass transport service in Kathmandu valley, has been transferred to municipalities and is currently not in operation. This shows that decentralization of service delivery provision has not been effective due to inefficient staff and financial constraints of the local bodies.

2. Governance of Agriculture Service Delivery in Nepal

Agriculture is considered to be the backbone of the Nepalese economy. It is the major source of livelihood for the Nepalese people. As one-third of the GDP comes from the agriculture sector, it is apparent that it has an immense role to play in reducing poverty and ensuring food security and balance of trade of Nepal. Contrary to the very important position of agriculture sector in the development of Nepal, the growth rate of agriculture has not been very encouraging due to low investments both by the government and the farmers themselves. The annual growth rate of agriculture sector was 2.7 per cent in the 1990s, whereas it increased to 2.8 per cent per annum from 2001 to 2006. Though the growth rate was recorded as high as 4.7 per cent in 2006/07, which is the base year of TYIP, it stood at a mere 2.1 per cent in 2008/09, and crop production experienced a sharp decline in the subsequent year mainly due to unfavourable weather. The objectives and policies are designed in such a way that Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) and National Agriculture Policy as the principal policies will assist food and nutrition security and millennium development goals by making it competitive through its commercialization and modernization (See Appendix 1 further detail). The policy basically focuses on enhancing productivity and make agriculture sector more result-oriented by adopting modern technologies.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives (MOAC) Nepal plays a pivotal role in the agricultural development of the country as agriculture is the major sector of the Nepalese economy. This sector has offered employment to 66 per cent of the economically active population, 39 per cent contribution is made to the GDP with 13 per cent of the total foreign trade of the country (TYIP, 2010). Therefore, the development of agriculture sector is the key for the development of the national economy. The DOA bears the overall responsibility for the agricultural growth and development of agriculture sector (Koirala, 2005). In view of the high population growth, limited land, growing poverty, environmental imbalance, involvement of private and non-government organizations, decentralization and competitiveness and economic liberalization in international arena, the broad objective of this department has been to support and help achieve food security and poverty alleviation by the transformation of agriculture through diversification and commercialization (MOAC, 2010). The MOAC has set out the specific objectives so as to increase agricultural production based on geographical diversity, to support food security by increasing food production and maintain the internal supply of food stuffs; to increase the production and productivity of raw material for the agro-industries; to support the produces that have comparative advantages through appropriate market management; to increase the availability of off-farm employment by supporting small industries and enterprises; to support export promotion and import substitution of agriculture; to support poverty alleviation by increasing the opportunity employment for small, marginal and women farmers; to screen and standardize the technologies through adoptive resources; strike a balance between agricultural development and conservation. To deliver the services, the following mechanisms have been established:

 2.1 Mechanism of Agriculture Service Delivery

The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives is responsible for managing agriculture service delivery in Nepal. Department of Agriculture is responsible for the agriculture service delivery. The major objectives of the DOA are as follows (MOAC, 2010):

  • To increase agricultural production based on geographical specialization;
  • To ensure food security through increased agricultural production and productivity in the country;
  • To supply raw materials for the expansion of agro-based industries;
  • To provide suitable markets for agro-products and to promote competitive agriculture system for increased value addition in agricultural commodities;
  • To promote agro-enterprises for increased off-farm employment;
  • To support import substitution and export promotion of agricultural products;
  • To help in reducing poverty of marginal, small and women farmers by creating productive employment opportunities;
  • To verify technology through adaptive research; and
  • To maintain balance between agricultural development and environmental protection, and conservation, promotion and utilization of genetic resources.

The department is headed by Directors-General and supported by Deputy Directors-General. At the central level, there are disciplinary Programmes Directorates to help the department on specific subject matters and to advise on matters related to policy, planning, monitoring and evaluation (MOAC, 2010). These directorates supervise and provide technical guidance to agriculture farms and district level service delivery. Private sector linkages and coordination are also facilitated by these programmes directorates. In essence, they function as technical hands of the department. A simplified structure of agriculture service delivery mechanism is presented in the following figure.

Figure 1: Structure of Agriculture Service Delivery System In Nepal

 

The objectives outlined are being practiced up to the agriculture service center (ASC) level. However, the objectives have not fully materialized due to both human and physical constraints.

3. Governance of Agriculture Service Centers: An Analysis

Agricultural service centers are the major undertakings of the government to educate, disseminate information and support the livelihoods of the Nepalese farmers. Service centers teach farmers about improved technologies so that they can increase agricultural production and productivity, thereby enhancing their living standard (MOAC, 2010). The centers support the farming communities to empower them for making good decisions for their welfare. Since 1950, the country has practiced several service delivery models and approaches, with support from donors or from the government’s own resources (Thapa, 2010). The models or approaches adapted in Nepal are conventional and ranges from T and V, Block Development, Tuki, Farming System Research to Farmer Group Approach, Contract out / Partnership of Extension Program, IPM (Farmers Field School) and others. Although all these approaches have some strengths and weakness, they have made significant contribution for transfer of technology to the farmers (Conroy, 2003).

Initially, Agricultural Service System in Nepal was synonymous to government or public services. The economic globalization, liberalization, privatization and advent of information and communication technologies have been brought tremendous changes in the field of agriculture development. The needs and interests of the farmers for recent knowledge and information of production technologies and production objectives are changing rapidly. Thus, farming is now closely linked with quality production, market competitiveness and sustainability rather than increasing production alone. As a result of the paradigm shift in agriculture, the role of government agriculture extension system such as service centers has also changed. It is realized that the role of government should shift to facilitation and the private sectors should be encouraged to provide the extension services. At present, there are different types of organizations other than government agencies providing agricultural services to the farmers on contract out and partnership basis. They include:

  • making agricultural services more client-driven and efficient;
  • strengthening farmers’ bargaining power with traders;
  • reducing transaction costs for input supplies and output buyers;
  • economies of scale (e.g. from bulking up in output marketing or storage facilitating savings and access to credit; and
  • reducing public-sector service delivery costs (Conroy, 2003).

The agriculture service centers are the grassroots service delivery points which have a pivotal role in delivering agriculture service.  Although the government has been using all four forms of service delivery modalities described in section one, public and private sector have been immensely engaged in agriculture delivery process. Regarding the status of decentralization, District Development Committee (DDC) is made responsible for agriculture and livestock services. DDC formulates plans with technical assistance of district level agriculture line agency officials. A government block grant is sent through the District Development Fund (DDF) - a non-operating account under the DDC. The DDC can supplement it with its own income and in a situation of fund shortfalls can prioritize it. Extension programs are generally executed through service centers located at the sub-district level. LSGA rules are to be followed in auditing and accounting by such centers with the coordination of DDC. There are District Agriculture Development Offices (DADOs) in all 75 districts of the country for related extension services to the agricultural producers. These district offices are under the direct technical supervision of the respective regional directors but the administrative control is somewhat ambiguous: after the devolution of agriculture extension to the District Development Committees (DDC) according to Local Self-Governance Act 1999, the DADOs fall under the administrative purview of the DDC. However, the regional directors of the departments of MOAC are exercising administrative authority in practice. This conflict in the line of command creates confusion for district extension offices. This situation has persisted because of the absence of elected body in the DDC. The DDCs are presently headed by the Local Development Officers who are the cadres of the Ministry of Local Development (MLD). The districts are subdivided into Agriculture Service Centers (ASCs) to provide extension services to the agricultural producers. The producers are organized into Farmers Groups to access government extension services (Thapa, 2010).

Strengths of Agricultural Service Delivery System

The published documents as well as the primary information from the service providers and service seekers demonstrate the following strengths of agriculture service delivery system in Nepal (Sah, 2010; Thapa, 2010).

  • Well established organizational structure throughout the country, up to the sub-district (service center) level;
  • Availability of infrastructures and facilities like agricultural farms, laboratories (seed, soil and plant protection), agriculture training centers and plant quarantines to support extension service;
  • Availability of human resources with specialization in different agricultural fields;
  • Presence of different kinds of partners like (I) NGOs, private input suppliers (called agro vets), farmers groups and cooperatives.

Limitations of Agriculture Service Delivery System

Instead of the strengths of the agriculture service delivery system, the following pitfalls are observed in the agriculture service delivery system in Nepal.

  • Weak motivation of technical staff;
  • Frequent transfer of trained human resources, and placement not in accordance with “the right man in the right place”;
  • Career opportunities not in line with performance and qualification;
  • Inadequate technical expertise of professionals and low literacy of farmers;
  • Blanket recommendation (one size fits all) of technologies, and lack of need based technology generation and transfer;
  • Insufficient facilities and organizational set up at the grass roots (ASC) level;
  • Lack of crop insurance policy;
  • Weak coordination among related departments and ministries;
  • Insufficient physical infrastructures like laboratories and ASC buildings;
  • Minimum budget flow to the disadvantaged groups/ farmers;
  • Lack of required training to human resources;
  • Weak technology dissemination;
  • Lack of appropriate programme planning;
  • Weak marketing system; and
  • Poor agricultural commercialization in hills and mountains

 

3.1 Issues

This study has tried to make an analysis on how the actors at the DOA envisage the role of service centers in delivering agriculture services at the grassroots. The explored views on issues, challenges and future directions for the governance of agriculture service centers in Nepal are as follows:

  • The targets could not be set appropriately and programmes could not be implemented accordingly.
  • No effective coordination could be established among the program implementing and monitoring agencies.
  • Prevalence of external intervention on the formulation and implementation of annual program
  • Excessive political interference in policy implementation
  • The allocation of the resources in priority projects could not be focused.
  • The capacity of plan implementing agencies could not be strengthened.

 

3.2 Challenges

Although, the government is emphasizing on the growth of agriculture services, the major challenges of agriculture service delivery in Nepal are as follows (Sah, 2010; World Bank, 2003):

  • Low agricultural production and productivity due to uncertainty in monsoon rainfall; climate change
  • Inadequate irrigation facility
  • Growing pressure on marginal land for cultivation
  • Less utilization of appropriate technology; less accessibility of farmers in markets

Other existing challenges in the sector are: less investment in agriculture sector (less than anticipated by APP); less efforts to attract private sector investment for agriculture commercialization; problem of irregular and inadequate supply of chemical fertilizer in remote hill areas; development of agriculture commercial pockets not as expected; non-existence of agricultural road network; shallow tube wells and other irrigation facilities lower than required; widening gap between research and extension in agriculture; inadequate physical infrastructure for agriculture commercialization; lack of standard laboratories and technology development and dissemination centers' network; and inadequate development of agro-industry and technology development.

Despite these problems, there are good prospects of contributing to national economy through sustainable development of agriculture sector through strengths such as institutional framework and human resources up to the grassroots level; existence of policy and legal base; availability of technical expertise; growing attraction of development partners for investment in agriculture sector and priority accorded to the sector by the government

3.3 Future Directions

Analyzing the information from the documents and primary information, future directions for agriculture service delivery can be outlined as follows:

Provision of legal and policy framework

A major problem of organizing effective agricultural service delivery in developing countries like Nepal is the absence of a legal and policy framework for providing the service.   They have no conducive legal, policy or philosophical bases and are out of touch with cultural realities.  Legal framework, preferably an act of parliament, should not only create extension as an important activity in pursuance of national development, but should also:

  • state the workable structure for extension in the country;
  • indicate the sources, levels and methods of funding;
  • identify sources and types of programme;
  • determine functions that constitute extension;
  • provide the quality of manpower needed, and
  • identify which agencies can participate and how.

Putting in place a legal and policy framework is one basic new and indispensable way of providing services in the developing countries.  It will help streamline the confusion currently existing in the effort to transfer agricultural knowledge to farmers, particularly in the areas of service provision, programme development and funding.

Link to Market Opportunities

The old practice of asking farmers to produce without providing the means but to meet specific market demands have not worked.  Service delivery becomes valuable when it is linked to specific market opportunities, when producers are being equipped to respond to particular market demands. The inefficiencies that bugged the traditional supply-driven, slow and expensive approaches to extension, are giving way to more efficient, demand-driven, flexible and responsive approaches. 

Recognizing Indigenous Knowledge

There is a need to harness indigenous knowledge for the development of extension service.  A country’s knowledge base needs to be developed and fostered to both improve its competitive position and to contribute to human and sustainable development goals.  This is evident when local, scientific and technical information are properly managed and used.  Special emphasis could be placed on developing and disseminating local content, improving the relevance of the information to local development, as well as capturing and auditing all relevant local resources.

Targeting and Gender Sensitivity

Targeting is the understanding of who the farmers are in terms of their capabilities (gender, resources, markets, culture, etc.) and ensuring that only technologies that are relevant to each farmer’s capability is targeted at him or her.  Targeting compels the service provider and, indeed, research to properly examine the audience and the technology, and identify farmers that have a greater likelihood of benefiting from the technology based on the characteristics (technical, social and market) of similar technology.

Networking and Enhancing the Capabilities of Extension Service Providers

Agricultural extension by its nature is a service that relies on linkages and networks.  An extension service that is not linked to research, farmers or other service providers cannot be effective.  Unfortunately, the linkages between extension and research and extension and farmers in most developing countries over the years have been very weak.  The new thinking is that for extension to succeed, it must enhance its linkages and networks with research, farmers, and among extension providers (public and private).  This way the capability of extension to transfer agricultural technology to farmers will be improved.  National and regional associations of extension service providers have proved a good tool in this regard.

Use of Information and Communication in Service Delivery

The promise of ICTs in agricultural service delivery is that they can energize the collection, processing and transmission of data, resulting in faster extension of quality information to more farmers in a bottom-up and interactive channel of communication.  Thus, the ICT may be the only way in which farmers can access a variety of information sources that are accessible, affordable, relevant and reliable. Also, increasing the use of ICT in agricultural extension will narrow the gender disparities in terms of access to agricultural information. The internet could be used to enable farmers to become part of the information flow process and even to instigate the process of information flow rather than waiting for the information to be presented to them via radio, TV, newspapers, newsletters, bulletins or other ICTs. 

Promoting Alternative Service Delivery Channels

Increased involvement of the local NGOs/private sector either in delivery, funding, or management of agricultural service delivery broadens the focus of personnel and makes services more responsive to client needs and changing economic and social conditions.  It offers farmers value for their money.  The result of increased private sector participation is higher in those aspects of extension service that are always profit-driven: for example, input procurement and distribution, cash crop extension, and veterinary extension.  For services that are more public oriented, for example, adaptive research, management and the administration of agricultural extension - including policy formulation, should continue to operate under the ambit of the government. 

Besides, there should be flexibility in the system so that activities can quickly be modified to adapt to a changing situation, regular supervision and participatory monitoring system and regular periodical reviews and reforms for effectiveness, continuity and impact through scaling up.

Conclusion

In spite of the significant efforts made by the agriculture service delivery system, there still exists several problems and issues that require due attention for more efficient and effective service delivery. One of the major challenges for agricultural service system is how to serve the majority of the rural poor and socially disadvantaged groups who have long been neglected. Other issues are inadequate linkage among research and services, education, farmers and other stakeholders, poor infra-structural development, insufficient number of service delivery personnel etc. to cater to diversified agricultural services. Hence, the failure of the various service delivery approaches in developing countries to effectively engineer significant and sustainable agriculture growth has become a major concern to all stakeholders, including the donor community (Conroy, 2003). Furthermore, the concerns have been fueled lately by the wave of pluralism, market liberalization and globalization sweeping across the world and giving rise to initiative that will enhance efficiency and effectiveness of not only the sub-components of service delivery but the entire system of technology generation, dissemination and use. With a rapidly expanding population, environmental degradation, political instability, economic failure and the declining budget, re-thinking the way agricultural technology is delivered to farmers has become necessary. Here, Nepal is not an exception.

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Annex 1 - Policy Provisions in the Plan Document of Three Year Plan Approach Paper (2010/11 - 2012/13)

Agriculture and Food Security

Objectives

  1. To enhance the contribution of agriculture sector in food and nutritional security, employment generation and poverty reduction and balance of trade by means of its modernization and commercialization considering agriculture sector as the backbone of national economy;
  2. To improve economic status of rural people by increasing the production and productivity of agriculture and livestock commodities in line with the requirements of farmers and other stakeholders.

Strategy

  1. Efforts will be centered towards ensuring food and nutritional requirements by enhancing agriculture productivity through commercialization of agriculture and livestock commodities and development of rural infrastructure.
  2. Enhance competitive capacity by making easy availability of improved breed livestock and reducing the cost of livestock production
  3. Make quality control, monitoring and regulation of food agriculture and livestock commodities effective
  4. Develop climate change resilience technology and to disseminate conservation, promotion and utilization of agriculture biodiversity
  5. Encourage organic agriculture
  6. Coordinate research, extension and education
  7. Encourage contract farming and cooperative farming
  8. Develop and extend the agriculture market

Working Policy

  • 1.1   Area of cultivated land will be extended by utilizing marginal and fallow land and maintaining fertility of soil.
  • 1.2   Capacity of farmers, entrepreneurs and experts will be developed by utilization of newly developed technology in the field of commercialization of agriculture, quality testing, monitoring and regulation.
  • 1.3   Special privileges and services will be provided to poor farmers below poverty line based on defined criteria through group approach.
  • 1.4   Priority will be accorded for quality seed production by strengthening government-owned and private farms which produce certified seed and improved livestock breed.
  • 1.5   Programs for certification of international standard in seed and livestock production and food commodities to be exported from Nepal will be carried out by obtaining the accreditation from International Seed Certification Organization and organizations which certify livestock production and other food commodities.
  • 1.6   Agriculture production through value chain activities will be promoted by ensuring participation of all the stakeholders in agriculture value chain from producers to consumers.
  • 1.7   Small and marginal farmers will be encouraged to produce low volume high value crops and commodities by organizing them into groups and co-operatives.
  • 1.8   Year round irrigation facility will be ensured through ground water and surface irrigation and rain water harvesting.
  • 1.9   Production materials, machinery equipments, fuel and energy will be made available to farmers in concessional rate so as to reduce the cost of production.
  • 1.10     Agriculture and livestock produce will be made competitive with the view of import substitution and export promotion.
  • 1.11     Emphasis will be placed on increasing production of potential agricultural commodities having comparative advantage.
  • 1.12     Special program will be carried out in food deficit and nutrition deficient areas for the production and consumption of locally potential agricultural produces.
  • 1.13     Production of raw materials for agriculture and livestock-based industry will be increased.
  • 1.14 Establishment and operation of large agriculture farms from private sector, agriculture and livestock-based industry and chemical fertilizer, organic manure and agriculture lime factory and private-cooperative partnership company will be encouraged.
  • 1.15     Emphasis will be placed on provision of agriculture and livestock insurance, concessional agricultural credit, and tax discount for agricultural and livestock based industry and trade.
  • 2.1   Production and processing of agricultural and livestock commodities will be made competitive.
  • 2.2   Nepalese agricultural and livestock products will be made accessible to domestic, regional and international markets.
  • 2.3   Cost of livestock production will be reduced by encouraging use of productive animal, forage and fodder development that suits to local climate and consumption of mineral block for nutrition.
  • 3.1   National food laboratory will be strengthened and upgraded to accreditated laboratory of international standard for utilization of new technology of quality testing of food commodities, certification and commercialization.
  • 3.2       Standard and quality will be improved by making contemporary revisions in regulating agricultural and livestock commodities and services in line with international rules, regulations, conventions and agreements.
  • 3.3       Public awareness programs will be carried out for proper use of pesticides so as to protect people from negative effects of pesticides.
  • 4.1       Agricultural bio-diversity will be conserved through adaptation of global climate change in agriculture.
  • 4.2       Appropriate technology and infrastructure will be developed for conservation and utilization of indigenous knowledge and genetic/ natural resources.
  • 4.3       Production based on agricultural bio-diversity and employment and income generating activities will be encouraged and operation of market centers and entrepreneurship will be promoted.
  • 5.1       Organic zone will be declared with the brand promotion of organic products by identifying potential commodities and regions for encouraging organic cultivation of high value crops targeting international markets.
  • 5.2       Expansion of organic cultivation will be ensured by disseminating of knowledge and skills to local levels.
  • 6.1       Basic, applied and action research will be promoted with priority as per national need.
  • 6.2       Agriculture research programs will be focused towards getting maximum benefits that arise from WTO and other regional trade agreements.
  • 6.3       Partnerships with concerned agricultural institutes will be enhanced.
  • 6.4       Access of poor and women farmers will be ensured in decision making process related to selection, implementation and evaluation of agricultural researches.
  • 6.5       All the agriculture and livestock related services will be made available locally to the farmers in an integrated and extended fashion.
  • 7.1       Agriculture production, processing, marketing and microfinance program will be effectively carried out through commercial banks providing wholesale agriculture lending to co-operatives.
  • 7.2       Contract farming and co-operative farming programs will be encouraged involving private entrepreneurs and co-operative sector for increasing agricultural production.
  • 7.3       Structure of agricultural co-operatives from rural to central level will be strengthened.
  • 8.1       Collection centers and wholesale markets close to commercial agriculture and livestock production centers and outreach market networks will be developed and extended.
  • 8.2       Access of agriculture and livestock market information will be extended up to local level.

Expected Outcome

  1. Production of food crops would have been increased from 7,762,000 MT to 9,633,000 MT; pulses 262,000 MT to 377,000 MT; fruits 705,000 MT to 775,000 MT; potato 2,459,000 MT to 2,757,000 MT; vegetables 3,001,000 MT to 3,601,000 MT; milk 1,496,000 MT to 1,605,000 MT; and meat 248,000 MT to 329,000 MT by the end of plan period.
  2. Production of per person food crops would have been increased from 272 Kg. to 322 Kg.; pulses 9 Kg. to 13 Kg.; fruits 25 Kg. to 26 Kg.; vegetables 105 Kg. to 120 Kg; potato 86 Kg. to 92 Kg.; fish 2 Kg. to 2.01 Kg; milk 52 Kg. to 54 Kg.; and meat 9 Kg. to 11 Kg.; and egg 23 Kg. to 31 Kg. by the end of plan period.
  3. Raw materials required for agriculture and livestock based industry would have been increased.
  4. Storage capacity of agricultural commodities would have been enhanced.
  5. Foreign exchange reserve through exports of agricultural commodities would have been increased.
  6. Modern equipments would have been used in food researches.
  7. WTO standard would have been enforced in export and import of food commodities.
  8. Modern technology would have been used in quality fixation of agro-industry.