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  • Nepal planning 12-fold increase in science budget

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Nepal's new government is planning a US$125 million science budget for 2008 — a staggering 12-fold increase from last year.

The money will go to the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology (MEST), with the budget set to be approved next month.

Shortly before the country's April elections, the Maoist party — which has the largest share of seats in Nepal's assembly — released a manifesto declaring, "Without science a country cannot develop." Prachanda, the party's leader, has a degree in agricultural science and also taught science in a prep school.

Biotechnology research will be a focus — primarily to exploit Nepal's rich biological resources. A biotech lab in Kathmandu is due to be completed in 2009, while MEST plans to construct a national biotechnology research and development centre.

Nepal often experiences electricity and gasoline 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.

Link to full article in Science

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