Friday, June 21, 2019

Late monsoon and fertilizer shortage, India's priority for the next five years, and more

From The Kathmandu Post: With the agricultural sector already bracing for a late and “below normal” monsoon, a critical shortage of chemical fertilisers due to a delay in imports is expected to significantly affect paddy plantation during the peak season. The Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development said that its stock of di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), the world's most widely used phosphorus fertiliser, is running out and imports have been delayed due to the Finance Ministry not releasing funds on time, said Agriculture Ministry officials. There are 10,000 tonnes of DAP in stock, not nearly enough to meet the country’s demand for even 15 days.

The shortage is likely to diminish paddy production for the upcoming fiscal year at a time when monsoon has also been projected to be “below normal” in the key paddy producing region. Due to a favourable monsoon and ample supply of chemical fertilisers, the country recorded a bumper harvest this fiscal year. Nepal’s paddy harvest hit a record high of 5.61 million tonnes last season, up 9 percent, according to the ministry. This was on the back of a good monsoon and sufficient supply of chemical fertiliser. Paddy plantation season is a four-month period from May to August, after which harvest continues until October.

INDIA: NDA govt’s agenda for the next 5 years

From liveMint: President Ram Nath Kovind on Thursday set the tone for what Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s team will strive to accomplish in the next five years—make life easier for the common man, especially in rural areas, with a scaled-up inclusive agenda, and deliver economic policies that will double the size of the economy to $5 trillion. A corruption-free rule, an uncompromising stance on issues of national security and developing insurgency-racked Jammu and Kashmir also figure on top of the agenda. On the economic front, structural reforms in the farm sector and new policies on industry and retail trade are in the offing.

The President outlined the immediate steps his government was taking to ease the pain from a slowdown in farm output— ₹90,000 crore of annual income support for farmers announced in the interim budget in February—besides the longer-term measures that are in the pipeline. These include a ₹25 trillion investment in farm productivity. Modi had announced the creation of a task force of chief ministers last week to draw up a plan for structural reforms in the agriculture sector.

The steps contemplated for inclusive growth include accident insurance cover of ₹10 lakh for GST-registered traders, banking services at the doorstep, loans of up to ₹50 lakh without collateral for entrepreneurs and construction of 20 million new village homes. Steps to make India a global manufacturing hub and simplification of tax laws are part of the economic reforms agenda. The President said the flagship Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana, which offers collateral-free loans of up to ₹10 lakh to non-farm small and micro enterprises launched in 2015, will now be expanded to cover 300 million people.

NEPAL: BoP under pressure as trade deficit widens

From The Himalayan Times: Owing to rising imports amid slower exports, country’s trade deficit widened by 19.7 per cent to Rs 1,099.6 billion in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year (mid-July to mid-May), according to statistics of Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB). The macroeconomic report of the first 10 months of the current fiscal published by the central bank today showed that merchandise imports increased by 19.6 per cent to Rs 1,178.14 billion in the first 10 months of 2018-19 compared to an increase of 21.8 per cent in the same period of the previous year. However, country could export goods worth only Rs 78.53 billion in the same period of this fiscal.

The widening export-import gap has also added pressure to the balance of payments (BoP) situation, as it remained at a deficit of Rs 68.2 billion in the review period compared to a deficit of Rs 18.93 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal year. Likewise, rising trade imbalance has also affected the current account, as it registered a deficit of Rs 221.4 billion in the review period. Such deficit was Rs 192.05 billion in the same period of the previous year. In the review period, capital transfer and foreign direct investment (FDI) in Nepal amounted to Rs 13.48 billion and Rs 9.47 billion, respectively. In the same period of the previous year, capital transfer and FDI amounted to Rs 14.15 billion and Rs 15.51 billion, respectively.