Agriculture in Nepal

The Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal has an estimated population of more than 26 million and is known for its mountain peaks that include the legendary Mount Everest. Agriculture in Nepal is a major aspect of the economy, employing more than 66 percent of the workforce. Because so many of Nepal’s citizens rely on agriculture for their income, many economic development initiatives in Nepal are focused on efficient, sustainable agricultural practices. Here are four organizations supporting agriculture in Nepal:

4 Organizations Supporting Agriculture in Nepal

  1. Educate the Children – Founded by Pamela Carson in 1989, Educate the Children Nepal (ETC) focuses on three main goals: children’s education, women’s empowerment and agricultural development. ETC’s agricultural programs assist rural Nepali women in furthering their knowledge of sustainable practices. Women learn methods for composting and for making pesticides. ETC also provides tools and seeds so that women can expand their crops. Importantly, the organization tailors its methods to different regions, emphasizing locally viable crops. In the first half of 2019, ETC reports that 31 rural women were able to increase their household income by 10 to 25 percent by growing and selling mushrooms.
  2. FORWARD Nepal – The Forum for Rural Welfare and Agricultural Reform for Development (FORWARD) has been working to aid Nepalis living in poverty since 1997. Committed to promoting economic equality, FORWARD provides vocational training for workers in several industries, including forestry, fishing and agriculture. Its website emphasizes an intent to “utilize and promote local knowledge and skills” and to develop community organizations and resource centers. Some of FORWARD’s agricultural programs have included distributing seeds to earthquake victims, training people to cultivate dry riverbeds and promoting climate-smart rice-lentil cropping systems. In the fiscal year 2017-2018, FORWARD Nepal’s riverbed farming program reached 200 households and its rice-fallow crop program benefited 459. The same year, the organization ran a project focused on dairy production techniques, which reached an estimated 5,000 households.
  3. U.N. Women – The Rural Women’s Economic Empowerment (RWEE) Joint Programme is a collaboration between U.N. Women, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme.  The RWEE program is focused on supporting rural women in seven countries, including Nepal. According to U.N. Women, the program supports 3,400 women. One RWEE project involved water access in the village of Paltuwa where water scarcity had resulted in women farmers devoting large portions of their day to carrying water to their farms from the river. As a consequence, crop yields were low and farmers struggled economically. A 2016 RWEE project resulted in the building of an irrigation system in Paltuwa, which has improved agricultural production. The RWEE program also employs women to work on construction projects related to agriculture. During the building of the Community Agriculture Extension Service Centre in Ranichuri, 130 women were employed.
  4. SADP-Nepal – Established in 2004, Sustainable Agriculture Development Program, Nepal (SADP-Nepal) is headquartered in Pokhara, Nepal. SADP-Nepal promotes sustainable agricultural practices, lobbies for organic agriculture and supports collaboration among farmers. The organization’s motto, “Happy Soil, Happy Life,” shows an emphasis on sustainable practices. Some of the SADP-Nepal’s projects include community farms, awareness-raising campaigns and disaster-relief programs. In the wake of the April 2015 earthquake, SADP-Nepal provided rice, lentils, noodles and tents to thirteen families affected by the earthquake. SADP-Nepal also promotes eco-tourism as a way to generate income for local farmers by providing organic food for visitors.

Final Thoughts

While many Nepalis struggle economically, the poverty rate has been decreasing in recent years, dropping from 25 percent in 2010 to 21 percent in 2018. With continued support for agricultural workers, hopefully, the economic situation in Nepal will continue to improve.

– Meredith Charney
Photo: Wikimedia

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Nepal
Nepal, located in the Himalayas and parts of the Indo-Gangetic Plain, boasts eight of the world’s 10 highest peaks, ancient golden temples and a very rich history. However, this South Asian country also suffers from high rates of poverty, and as a consequence, hunger. Malnutrition rates are among the highest in the world. In the text below, the top 10 facts about hunger in Nepal are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Hunger in Nepal

  1. One in four people in Nepal lives below the national poverty line that is just 50 cents per day. People that live under the poverty line do not have enough money to meet their basic needs like food, clothing and shelter.
  2. Those who live in mountainous, more rural areas are the most likely to suffer from poverty and hunger that affects the country.
  3. The 2016 Global Hunger Index (GHI) found that 7.8 percent of Nepal’s population was undernourished. Nepal is ranked 72 out of 118 countries in the GHI, and the report rates Nepal’s hunger at 21.9, which falls into the category of serious. However, these numbers are lower than they have been in past years since 2000, GHI ranked Nepal’s hunger at 43.1.
  4. Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) which is Zero Hunger, is a very important goal for the country. The prevalence of malnutrition among children under the age of 5 was 9.7 percent in 2016.
  5. According to The World Health Organization (WHO), stunting is defined as “the impaired growth and development that children experience from poor nutrition, repeated infection, and inadequate psychosocial stimulation.” Children can be viewed as stunted if their height-for-age is more than two standard deviations below the WHO Child Growth Standards median. More than 35 percent of children under the age of 5 in Nepal are stunted, according to the research done in accordance with SDG. 
  6. Agriculture provides work to 68 percent of Nepal’s population and accounts for 34 percent of the country’s GDP, yet food is in low supply for Nepali citizens.
  7. Nepalese children who are stunted suffer from a variety of severe mental and health issues, especially in the first 1,000 days of their lives. These issues can reflect on their adult life, specifically on poor cognition, nutritional issues and even low wages.
  8. Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative have been very successful in its work in Nepal. Since 2011, there has been a 24 percent increase in the prevalence of children younger than the age of 2 receiving a minimum acceptable diet.
  9. The government and the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) introduced the Zero Hunger Challenge in 2014, with the goal of eradicating all hunger issues in Nepal by 2025.
  10. The Zero Hunger Challenge consists of five goals:
    • All food systems are sustainable: from production to consumption.
    • An end to rural poverty. Double small-scale producer incomes and productivity.
    • Adapt all food systems to eliminate loss or waste of food.
    • Access adequate food and healthy diets, for all people, all year round.
    • An end to malnutrition in all its forms.

Many experts that the above-mentioned goals of Zero Hunger Challenge are unlikely to be met by 2025.

These top 10 facts about hunger in Nepal presented in the text above illustrate that the country has made a lot of progress in its goals to eliminate hunger, but it still has a long way to go. The joint efforts of the government and nongovernmental organizations can certainly be the key to eradicating poverty and improving the economic situation in the country.

– Evann Orleck-Jetter
Photo: Flickr

Agriculture in Nepal
Nepal is a very small country that is found landlocked between India and China. There is evidence that Nepal has been populated in the mountainous regions for as long as 9,000 years. The estimated population of Nepal is 26.5 million and is one of the poorest countries in the world with nearly one-third of the population below the poverty line.

Agriculture in Nepal is central to the economy of this country. Nearly 80 percent of the population relies on agriculture in some way, but there is not enough production to support the population. There is a chronic issue of child malnutrition and an estimated 50 percent of Nepal’s children are affected by stunting. This rate is even higher in the mountainous regions.

Regional Variance of Agriculture in Nepal

There are three major climatic regions in Nepal, with each providing unique crops. The best crop-yielding area is Terai, which borders India. This area has a subtropical climate that supports the production of rice, wheat, barley, oil seeds, jute, tobacco, indigo and even opium. This area is a large crop-producing area but is compromised heavily by the changing climate, which is causing crop yield to be erratic.

The hill regions are crucial to agriculture in Nepal with the farmers being able to produce different crops during different seasons. These farmers of the hill regions can produce rice and maize in the summer and wheat, barley, mustard and vegetables in the winter. This region is also affected by increasing climate change.

The mountainous regions of Nepal have always been a harsh environment for the production of agriculture in Nepal. This area is limited to the crops of potatoes, barley and buckwheat. The harsh conditions cause the farmers to rely on livestock as a key source of income and agriculture in Nepal. Livestock is the main producer of yogurt, cheese, ghee and eggs. These farmers are known to raise Yaks that provide meat, milk and wool as a source of cash.

Efforts to Boost Production

Nepal’s government has made efforts to improve the production of agriculture in Nepal but has had minimal success. Nepal has many water sources but efforts to provide farmers with irrigation systems have proven inadequate. Nepal’s government introduced chemical fertilizers in the 1950s, which did create a small increase in agricultural production.

The lack of transportation in the mountainous regions has been a major obstacle for exports and the government has provided little improvement in this area as well. In the 1980s, Nepal’s government efforts to increase production began to improve exports with Nepal becoming one of the largest exporters of rice. However, now Nepal has a major food insecurity for its own population.

Food insecurity in Nepal has been exacerbated by changing climate, deforestation and the strike of a 7.8-magnitude earthquake in 2015. Deforestation is eroding topsoil and damaging water sources. The 2015 earthquake caused an estimated 8,699 deaths and a massive rebuilding project. More than 500,000 homes and 1,300 governmental buildings were destroyed, which has had a devastating impact on agriculture in Nepal.

Capacity-Building Foreign Aid

USAID has developed programs to help Nepal’s government rebuild agriculture and help the population to rise above the poverty level. USAID’s Feed the Future Initiative works with Nepal’s government and local development partners to increase agricultural production, create access to markets and improve child nutrition. In just five years, the Feed the Future Initiative has helped more than one million people in Nepal by dropping the poverty level by 36 percent. This project has also decreased the estimated 49 percent rate of child malnutrition to 36 percent in 2016.

USAID has also implemented the Program for Enhancement of Emergency Response (PEER). This program trains Nepalese citizens in search and rescue of collapsed structures. Also, medical first-responders are being trained and hospitals equipped for emergencies. This program was developed in response to the disastrous earthquake of 2015.

The rebuilding of Nepal is a necessity to improve agriculture in Nepal and decrease poverty. Nepal’s government has acted to increase production, but Nepal is still in need of outside assistance. A National Adaptation Programme of Action has begun to help educate farmers on switching crops from wheat and rice to vegetables that can be grown in less time.

Higher yields can produce more income, but Nepal still lacks the ability to support the local population with current production. Agriculture in Nepal is in great need of assistance to reduce poverty and child malnutrition.

– Kristen Hibbett
Photo: Flickr

28. Cooperative Market Development Program for Farmers in NepalOn Feb. 2, the government of Nepal and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) signed an agreement to launch the Cooperative Market Development Program throughout the South Asian country.

According to the press release on the UNDP website, the aim of this program is to help farmers in Nepal by increasing the quality and stability of agricultural production. The program would accomplish this through improvements in infrastructure, training on new, updated farming techniques and development of marketing methods.

Importance of Agriculture

Agricultural production is crucial for the majority of Nepal’s population, where it serves as a form of occupation for 68 percent of the people.

Although agriculture is the main livelihood for a majority of the population, Nepal still faces certain challenges when it comes to producing enough food for its population. USAID reports that Nepalese citizens do not receive a sufficient amount of food.

Food Deficiency

This food deficiency has led to 36 percent of children under the age of five to suffer from malnutrition and its accompanying effects; however, the situation in Nepal is more optimistic then these statistics make it seem. The International Labour Organization (ILO) reports that in the last decade, poverty in Nepal has gone down from 42 percent to around 24 percent.

The Cooperative Market Development Program will further contribute to this decline in poverty by helping farmers in Nepal innovate their practices.

Development of Farming

The duration of the program will be five years, and will primarily assist six districts in the Kathmandu Valley. While cooperative markets are not new to the farming community in Nepal, a variety of obstacles exist that affect the success of this method.

The UNDP press release states that cooperative farming markets have been hindered by “poor infrastructure, including transport and storage facility, inadequate access to market information and regulatory and institutional bottlenecks.”

The Cooperative Market Development Program has the potential to boost Nepal’s economy by working on a local level throughout the country. This is significant and would benefit Nepalese farmers because currently one-third of supplies for the farming community are imported from other countries, as reported by UNDP.

Long-Term Benefits for Nepal

It is estimated that the program will directly help 14,000 farmers in Nepal, who live throughout the six districts of the Kathmandu valley. The government of Nepal plans to contribute $5 million dollars to the program, while UNDP will contribute $2 million dollars.

The program will take some specific steps to achieve its goals: provide training on various farming-related activities such as production enhancement, branding and marketing, and create 90 collection centers.

Eliminating Poverty and Hunger

Furthermore, the Cooperative Market Development Program will contribute towards Nepal’s achievement of two of their Sustainable Development Goals: eliminating poverty and hunger.

In addition, improved food production and enhanced quality of fruits and vegetables could help combat malnutrition and food shortage.

Farmers in Nepal will be able to increase their incomes and update their farming practices through this program, which in turn will have a lasting impact on the continued reduction of poverty in Nepal.

– Jennifer Jones

Photo: Flickr