Nepal plans 12-fold increase in science budget

June 18th, 2008 - 1:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Kathmandu, June 18 (IANS) The new Nepalese government is planning a $125 million science budget for the current year - a whopping 12-fold increase over that of last year. The money will be allotted to the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), with the budget likely to be approved next month.

Shortly before the country’s April elections, the Maoist party - now with the largest number of seats in Nepal Assembly - released a manifesto declaring: “Without science a country cannot develop”.

Prachanda, the Maoist supremo, has a degree in agricultural science and also taught science in a prep school, a Scidev.Net report, quoting Science magazine, said.

The focus will be on biotechnology research, primarily to exploit the landlocked country’s rich bio-resources.

A biotech lab in Kathmandu is scheduled for completion in 2009, while MEST plans to construct a national biotechnology research and development centre.

Nepal experiences power and fuel shortages, so the government will also devote a large part of the money to developing clean energy, including the use of a jatropha as a biofuel.

World Bank figures on science spending currently put Nepal behind Burundi, the country with the world’s lowest per capita gross domestic product.

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