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Mirroring Livestock Knowhow in Nepal

 A beautiful country in the lap of Himalayas having rich land of diversity, Nepalese agriculture is a way of life and subsistence mixed farming of livestock and crop dominates. Mountain agriculture is solely dependent on livestock for draft, manure food and fiber. Multi species livestock husbandry is the special feature of subsistence farming in Nepal. However, with changing socio-economic dynamism, farming is majorly practiced by women, children and elder citizens since there is increasing trend of youth migration in foreign countries.

Livestock in Nepal

Image: Nepalese women engaged in livestock production

With the migration of male counterparts to the foreign labor market, a house wife is being engaged in each and every stuffs which earlier she didn’t use to. According to 6th National Agricultural Census 2012/13, the involvement of women in Agriculture has increased from 8 to 19 percent in the past decade

Definitely, the increased trend of out migration will threaten the agriculture production of the country. But, there are many instances where the youth after returning back to Nepal are working in fields with improved technology. Poultry farms, Improved cattle farm, Goat farm and many small agro-industries are the areas where youths are being engaged in. An example to cite is; Rohit Rai, who returned from South Korea where he had worked in a mobile company, started a cow farm providing employment to others. He has planted the nutritious fodder grass like Napier, Berseem and uses chaffer machine to make them palatable feed. At first it was a Herculean task for him to convince that there are opportunities in Agri-entrepreneurship but now he has become a source of inspiration to other youth.

But a women is just a  follower of the decision made by her male counterparts. She does have less chances in  decision making. There are rare instances of initiative taken by women in livestock enterprises.

 Livestock as National economy

The number of domestic animals are increasing and so is the status of domestic animals and fowl production. Cow and buffalo milk has increased by 3.6 percent, meat 2.6 percent and egg 4.69 percent comparing to fiscal year 2011/12 (Economic Survey 2013). It is encouraging that poultry alone shares 11.5 percent to the Livestock GDP and 4 percent to the national GDP (Krishna Kaphle, 2014). Lot of young people are engaged in the production, processing and marketing of poultry products. Several findings depicted that there are number of animals and animal production are in increasing trend but still far below the national requirement.

 Government Programs in Livestock Sector 

Government Programs in Livestock Sector Aiming to attract the active rural youth, GoN is creating opportunities of employment, Rural Youth Self Employment Livestock Development (2008), Dairy Animal Production Program (2013), Animal Health Program (2013), which also focuses on study and research regarding the animal health. Commercial Forage Seed Production and Marketing Program (2014) has been launched while making consideration on  nutritious feed to make good health of animal. Karnali zone special Agriculture Project has been launched in the most rural part of the country, since 2004.  Agriculture sector is full of risks. Similarly Crop and Livestock Premium Subsidy Program to attract the farmers, private and cooperative sector to invest in commercialization of animal production. This program aims to increase the investment reducing the potential risks. The risks are insured by the Government providing 50 percent of the subsidy. Small Farmer Development Bank Limited is providing credits to rural farmers run agro-based enterprises. Also, Government of Nepal has introduced Group approach of agricultural extension system in 1988/99 to transfer the technologies to the farmers encouraging women’s participation which is ongoing.

Despite the dreary formalities and tiresome processes for obtaining the incentives, lack of access to information, insufficient incentives, unavailability of sufficient inputs , vague land use policy are making agriculture sector and livestock subsector less charming and provoking youth to migrate abroad for employment. Also, Government launch limited  programs, so they could not strike the grass root impact level. Besides, inefficient marketing and distribution system, slow development of transport and communication infrastructures, uncertain outbreaks of epidemic diseases like bird flue and lack of skilled technicians to cater these issues, lack of processing industries for value addition, unavailability of improved breeds and nutritious feedstuffs are discouraging youth to initiate livestock enterprises. Increasing trend of commercial crop production with heavy pesticides application is a burning constraint of beekeeping. Agriculture Development Strategies should address these issues and also create policies to attract youth in agri-entrepreneurship.

Agriculture sector is providing employment opportunities along with food security to the huge number of population. The present less output can be accelerated by proper nutritious feeding, organized breeding, scientific management and use of advanced technologies for disease control programs and for these to achieve, production of skillful livestock graduates is imperative as they are those who work in the future. Youths who are returning as “brain gain” are key to contribute to steam the engine to drive self sufficiency in food production of Nepal.

 

Think sensibly, act responsibly…It’s time for ABCDE

I- Who are you?

Me- I am a girl studying veterinary science.

Myself- But above all you are a human.

I- Where do you live?

Me- I live in Chitwan, Nepal.

Myself- Oh girl! foremost this world is your residence.

……..soliloquy continued…..

I- Day by day your environment is getting polluted. What approaches have you made for sustainable environment use?

Me- There are so many concerned eco- warriors to ponder about environmental issues. Why should I bother?

Myself- Do only environmentalists reside in your environment?

The last line struck a chord within my soul. In the zephyr of thoughtfulness eventually I, me and myself converged and concurred in point of fact that this earth renders a canopy to entire living beings, every of us won a part of it. This environment where we dwell is merely a mirror to reflect how well we get to grips with its individual component. How the input is, so the output results. In this era of mechanization and industrialization, advancement in technology is surging at lightening speed. Researches are ongoing at sub-cellular and ultra microscopical level. DNA segregation, gene manipulation, automaton are no more a wonder. The world is getting narrower, people and events million miles away are accessible through electronic communication. In this hustle and bustle, people are in thirst of undue achievements. Wow! human progression seems so admirable. But the crucial question lies herewith, how long will this all sustain? Pollution along with increasing population is escalating but the mother earth has finite carrying capacity. A breathe of fresh air, a glass of clean water and landscape of natural environment is more a dream than reality. Advancements are achieved at the expense of environment. Consequences are deleterious climatic change, health hazards, green house effect, global warming, desertification, extinction of various flora and fauna etc. threatening the survival of overall living beings. If this proceeds no more time it takes to question on the sustainability of living beings.

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Environmental education has evolved as a discrete subject of study worldwide and also included in school curriculum. Uncountable approaches have been made  for sustainable environmental use through speeches, awareness campaigns and several dedicated organisations. The concept of 3R ( Reduce, Recycle, Reuse ), 4R ( 3R + recovery), 5R (3R + Restore + Replenish ), 3A ( Aware, Awaken, Apply) have evolved. Yet, environmental degradation is a burning issue globally. All because we consider environment to be an issue only to environmentalists. Why do we forget the reality that healthy environment is indispensable  to each and every of us. So, it’s time to think sensibly and act responsibly, be the primer for making this world a cleaner, greener and healthier home to dwell in.

The elementary and remarkable attempt each of us can make are- segregate degradable and non- degradable solid wastes of our home, composting degradable while as reduce, recycle and reuse the non degradable stuffs. We can make pocket our dustbin and dispose at appropriate place. Refusing polythene bags and use of eco- friendly fabric bags can be noteworthy effort. Plantation in barren land serves as adjuvant in environment conservation.

Reformative youths there’s urgency to wake up right at this moment. It’s time for ABCDE- Apply by yourself, biodegrade the suitable waste, change your attitude, disseminate your knowledge and encourage others to follow your path. Itsy- bitsy contribution from each and every individual can result in earth- shattering consequence.

 

Agricultural Transformation in Nepal

In some years, the government declares the subsidy on quality seed to ensure food security through increased productivity but in the whole fiscal year there is neither mechanism developed nor execution. Similarly, with regard to access to credit, the so called Agriculture Development Bank changed its policy to invest in non-agricultural portfolio and some other commercial bank like, Mega Bank which has alternative name for plough to power (to promote small scale business), but speaking truly it’s no more than slogan. There are several instances of such nature. Weak policy formulation, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and revision system together with inconsistency in agriculture is an important issue which has created frustration among farm families and out migration of youth from rural areas.

Agriculture in Nepal

A glimpse of paddy and maize farming in Nepal

Agriculture in Nepal is characterized by low productivity which is mainly due to predominance of traditional farming practices, heavy reliance on weather conditions and poor infrastructure development. Government has been developing Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) to replace Agricultural Perspective Plan (APP) from 2015 with the concept of agricultural transformation, but the transformation process is not getting momentum due to small uneconomic farm size, resource constraints, inadequate infrastructure development, lack of alternative employment opportunities, lack of technical knowledge and business skills among farmers and inadequate policy supports.

Agriculture has been one of the pillars of the development since I was a child. The 6th National Agriculture Census (2011/12) shows that there are 3.831 million farming number where 60 percent of farmers are unable to feed from their own production. Data from CIA World Factbook (2013) shows that 75 percent of whole population depends upon agricultural activities contributing 30.8 percent to the national GDP. The agriculture sector is expected to grow by more than 5 percent but it was only by 3.6 percent in 2012/13, this condition was stated as ‘jobless growth’ of Nepal in The Least Developed Countries Report 2013. On an average, in spite of two decades of investment, there is only decimal (about 3 percent) progress in Nepalese agriculture.

In this regard, here I am presenting some of the major ways to transform Nepalese agriculture to achieve much higher productivity, competitiveness, inclusiveness, and sustainability while making it more resilient to climate change impacts, which is also a road map of ADS.

Public Private Partnership

Coordination is one of the widely talked word and terminology in Nepal but it has failed almost all the time. The contribution of the private sector has been grossly overlooked. Hence, there is a need to create conducive environment which promote private sector involvement in agriculture. Moreover it needs to enhance a favorable environment for a broad and pluralistic participation and resource coordination amongst all potential service providers and beneficiaries in partnership to adapt and modify technologies to best meet its farmer’s requirement. So we need more public and private research to work hand in hand for farmers.

 Value Chain Approach

High value-added agricultural products in order to have a high return help to open up new markets, and even build their own brand, and promote farm diversification. Nepal is already member of WTO and other organizations which increases the competition between domestic and foreign products and entrepreneurs to satisfy consumers from their products and services. The association of actors in agribusiness chains helps to realize economies of scale and gain market power of Nepalese agricultural products. This has been observed explicitly in poultry, dairy, tea, cardamom, ginger, and fresh vegetable sectors.

Commercialization and Competitive Advantage

Investment of resources, horizontal and vertical linkages between value chain actors, and policy supports help to commercialize certain sector of agriculture industry. The involvement of farmers and resources invested in these sectors and outputs generated from them provide competitive advantage for import substitution and export promotion. Commercialization of agriculture, being a national goal, has been receiving top priority in policies, plans, and programmes of the government. However, such efforts have been in project mode not in policy shift mode. Such projects which are currently in implementation include Project for Agricultural commercialization and Trade (PACT), High Value Agricultural Project (HVAP), etc.

Agricultural Mechanization

Our agriculture is heavily dependent on human and animal power which constitutes 78 percent of the total farm power, while mechanical sources contribute only 22 percent, also one of the factors responsible for high cost of production. Agricultural mechanization, which includes improvement of simple farm tools and implements like sickle and hoe to use of power tillers, harvesters, planters and seed drills etc., has become the need of the day where concept of collective farming or block farming could be appropriate to make huge plots. Recently, government officials have developed Contract Farming Guideline focusing on the import of modern farming machinery, including discounts on VAT and other taxes. All of these particularly automation and use of ICTs will also add glamour to farming and attract more youth in agriculture bychanging their perception into an exciting and innovative industry.

Capacity building and farmer outreach

The current prevailing simple mechanistic delivery system of training is not enough to support farming. Limited numbers of experts (JTA to officers) are trying hard to teach the huge number of farmers and generate appropriate technology. In the field, one front line extension worker has to look after more than 1300 farm families. More ever, major of our technology transfer materials are outdated and more recent publication are in doner agencies preference language than in Nepali. There is also need to have better coordination among training providing institutions. Providing agribusiness or entrepreneurship trainings to remittance recipient households and returnee migrants can play vital role in commercializing agriculture at faster rate. Hence, the government should develop supportive policy for development of human resources to improve farmers’ livelihoods, support resource sustainability, ensure national food security and promote agribusiness and trade.

To conclude that it would not be wrong as Nepal’s agricultural policies are made without their serious engagement which was also stressed in recently held program called ‘Nepal Economic Summit 2014 – Destination Nepal for Investment.’ It is high time for the government of Nepal to look into these issues critically and get the policies implemented properly so that Nepal can once again entrench as an agriculturally self-sufficient country where farmers feel secure and embrace farming as means of business and not merely a way of living.