Nepal Today

Friday, August 31, 2012

MALAYSIA AIRLINES BEGINS THRICE WEEKLY FLIGHTS BETWEEn KATHMANDU, KUALA LUMPUR r Kathmandu, 1 Sept. Malaysia Airlines Saturday began thrice weekly flights between Kathmandu and Kuala Lumpur Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) also flies between the capitals of Nepal and Malaysia which is a popular destination of Nepali workers. nnnn UPDATE NEXT NAM SUMMIT IN VENEZUELA Kathmandu, 1 Sept.: The 16th summit conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) concluded here Friday with a decision to hold the 17th summit conference in Venezuela, RSS reports from Tehran. The responsibility was given to Venezuela, a South American country on the basis of suggestions received and conclusion drawn from the discussions from various levels of the conference. Likewise, the conference adopted a more than 600-page Tehran Declaration on the basis of the views expressed by leaders of various countries in meetings of the minister level, foreign secretary level and the main session. The declaration mentions that the movement was effective for raising the common issues of poor and least developed countries not aligned to any powers for world peace and brotherhood. Likewise, the declaration also mentions that it is the inseparable right of a nation to produce nuclear weapons for peaceful purposes. Similarly, it also specially focused that there should be efforts of all for freeing the least developed countries from poverty, disease and fear. Addressing the concluding function, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also laid stress on world peace and brotherhood. Nnnn NRB RELAXES MONEY EXCHANGE RULES Kathmandu, 1 Sept.: The central bank has continued to give further relaxation on foreign exchange management in line with this year’s monetary policy, The Kathmandu Post writes. The Foreign Exchange Management Department of the Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) on Friday issued a circular, allowing money exchangers (licensed by the NRB) to provide exchange facility worth US $500 to Nepali citizens even if they do not have the source of the dollar (or other convertible currency). “Money changers licensed by the NRB can provide domestic currency in exchange for US Dollar or other convertible currency if demanded by Nepali citizens,” the circular says. “The maximum limit for such an exchange is $500 per transaction and money exchangers should collect the record of the beneficiaries.” “Even ordinary Nepali citizens like those who work in the hospitality and tourism industry as well as friends and relatives of migrant workers possess foreign currency in the form of tips or gift,” said Lila Prakash Sitaula, the executive director of the NRB. “We have to bring such currencies into the formal financial sector.” NRB awarded this facility to banks and financial institutions (BFIs) last year with a maximum limit of $1,000, but was reluctant to give the facility to money exchangers although they were pressing for it. “We did not allow money changers then because we wanted to test its effect first through formal financial channels,” said Sitaula. “Finally we have allowed them the facility. But we will be vigilant to check possible misappropriation.” He added that if the money exchangers comply with the documentation properly “we will increase their exchange limit to $1,000 like in the case of other BFIs.” The NRB directive comes at a time when there is a shortage of dollar in the market. Bankers said the move will further fuel the shortage. “There is no guarantee that money collected by the money exchanger will get back into the formal channel,” said a banker. “Since there is an acute shortage of US Dollar in the market, money exchangers will sell it in the informal market which offers a higher rate.” Some other bankers said there is a high chance that collection will be used to finance illegal import from China. “NRB should rethink this decision,” said a banker. “This is not the right time to relax the foreign exchange facility.” Nnnn NEPALI AGRICULTURAL SCIENTISTS AWRDED FOR THEIR WORK Kathmandu, 1 Sept.: The Borlaug Global Rust Initiative (BGRI), a US-based organisation, has decided to confer BGRI Gene Stewardship Award 2012 on a group of agriculture scientists of Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), Maina Dhitalwrites in The Kathmandu Post from New York.. Sarala Sharma, Deepak Bhandari, Dhruba B Thapa, Madan Bhatta and Nutan Gautam are the recipients of this award, which will be given away amid a ceremony in Beijing on September 2. Established in memory of Noble Laureate Norman Borlaug, who fought against world hunger, the award recognises a researcher or a team of researchers serving a national breedingprogramme or other nationally based institutions. Nepali research team was awarded for developing a variety of Ug99, which is resistant to rusts and yields better than existing varieties. The project is being conducted by Cornell University with the financial support of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. It takes much longer for breeders to develop and test new varieties than it does for Ug99 to mutate, so breeders are encouraged to release new varieties that do not rely on single major genes for resistance. Combinations of major and minor resistance genes can slow down Ug99’s predations. “Thanks to the Nepali team’s work, Nepal is fully prepared to face the possible arrival of stem rust IJg99 because the resistant varieties are already in farmers’ fields,” said Niranjan Prasad Adhikari, director at the Nepal Agricultural Research Institute. By releasing varieties that minimize losses caused by major wheat diseases, the NARC wheat team has significantly increased Nepal’s wheat yields. In the past five years, overall wheat yield has increased from 1.442 metric tons to 1.745 metric tons, and productivity has risen from 2.07 tons per hectare to 2.27. BGRI officials say that the NARC wheat research team works to release Ug99 resistant varieties of wheat and disseminate thenew varieties to resource poor farmers. By the end of the FY 2011-12, Ug99 resistant seed they have released is expected to cover approximately 5.4 percent of the wheat cultivation area in Nepal. “The team has also increased awareness for resistant varieties and pre-release seed multiplication among farmers, seed industry, planners and national agriculture system”, said Dr Sarah Evanega, associate director of the Durable Rust Resistance in Wheat project, and adjunct professor of plant breeding at Cornell University. nnnn


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