Category: Agriculture
Green to the Greener Revolution

The story of first green revolution began when Mexican Scientist Dr. Norman E. Borlaug developed wheat variety which was short in height and with long panicle. The discovery of wheat ideotype with dwarf size, fertilizer responsive and high yielding solve the panacea of hunger that the world was facing during 1960’s.

Similarly conventional rice varieties were long and leggy. If you give fertilizer, they grew tall, fall over and yield less. The discovery if IR8 varieties in 1962 by International Rice Research Insitute (IRRI) transform the productivity. Similarly in case of Maize, the discovery of high yielding cross pollinated varieties save the world from the threat of extinction of human beings because of hunger.

By 1970’s the term “Revolution” was well deserved when the modern varieties seed reach to many farmers and replace their traditional farming practices. By 1990’s almost 75% of Asian rice area were sown with new varieties.Famil_Farming_in_Mountain_Landscape

Famil_Farming_in_Mountain_Landscape

Thanks to the revolutionary decade of green revolution which bought a new face of food production with new seed and with good harvest. But ironically it couldn’t prove itself as a successful strategy for ending hunger that the world will soon be facing. The technology of green revolution reached t handful people who were economically and socially strong. It couldn’t go to the fields of small holders who were economically poor and socially desperate. It failed to alter the tightly concentrated distribution of economic power and access to land and resources.

Famil_Farming_in_Mountain_Landscape

Basically Green Revolution give the way to biorevolution based on genetic modification. Chemical agriculture is destroying the future of food production. We got soil erosion, soil salinization, soil compaction, water lodging, loss of biodiversity and that is occurring in alarming rate. The chemical cum biotechnology companies like Monsanto thought behind boosting crop yield to feed hungry planet is skeptical.

The United Nations predict that the world population will be 9 billion by 2050. To meet the food demand of 9 billion stomach, the agricultural productivity should be increased by 50%.

“World hunger is caused by destroying people capacity to feed themselves” –Vandana Shiva, Environmental Activist

Biodiversity Rich Farming Practice

Future food security is threatened by genetic erosion of diversity within and between population f the same species over time. In many societies uncultivated food, or food collected from the wild, finds its way into people diets and contributes significantly to the overall food security and micro-nutrient intake (preventing ‘hidden hunger’). In Nepal, the harvest from forests or the wild is a major source of medicine, food an nutrition for ethnic communities like Chepang, Rai, Sherpa and Gurung. The Rai and Sherpa community use 47 wild species for household consumption, 38 for fodder, 19 for medicine, 5 for religious and ceremonial purpose (LIBIRD, 2012). Jumli Marshi rice variety of Nepal is very tolerant to chilling temperature and adapted to highest elevation (3000m asl). The population is very susceptible to leaf and neck blast because of narrow genetic base as all landrace of Jumla originated from a single origin.

The intensification practice of monoculture threatens the source of genetic diversity and thus threatens both local and global food security.

“Most of the food need of poor part of humanity are met by having Biodiversity rich farming, Biodiversity will feed the world not chemical, ecological cycle will feed the world not genetic engineering” –Vandana Shiva,  Environmental Activist

Seeking Greener Revolution

The first green revolution was not green enough. The second revolution should seek miracle on different approach. Farmer will nnot adapt single miracle variety, it should cover the need of people whose farm is dry, flooded, salty and so on. In contrast of increasing the productivity, it should cover the nutritional need of people and solve the malnutrition. The second green revolution should be greener enough to reach to small holder poorest farmers in contrast first had big impact on richest field. The second revolution should meet the food and nutrition demand conserving genetic diversity, reducing petrochemical use, addressing climate change, improving people livelihood. Moreover it should be sexy enough to attract youth towards farming as respectful profession.

The United Nation’s  general assembly declaration of 2014 as International Year of Family Farming draw the world’s attention to the importance of smallholder farmers towards reducing poverty and hunger conserving biodiversity and providing the household and communities with nutritional rich food and livelihood. The future of world food security hold in hands of small holder farmers who make up their living on different landscapes.

World Food Day and Family Farming

World Food Day 2014 - FAO Banner

The World Food Day 2014 Theme is Family Farming “Feeding the World, Caring for the Earth”. The theme has been chosen to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farmers. It focuses world attention on the significant role of family farming in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.

Image Credit : FAO 

Suggestive Reading

“The Next Green Revolution – National Geographic”

“The new green revolution– A bigger rice bowl- The Economist”

“On Farm Management of agriculture biodiversity in Nepal- Libird

“World Food Day 2014 – FAO”

Unleashing Nepalese Agriculture

Many countries are already developed both in terms of their economy and society, while others are rapidly striving to catch up. But here in Nepal, we seem to be tip-toeing towards a so-called developed and “New Nepal”. While our wants are growing, even our basic needs are not met.  An example is the general neglect that agriculture has faced in a context of a growing desire for material wealth.

Vegetable_Mandy_Pokhara

Vegetable_Mandy_PokharaCultivable lands in urban areas and suburbs are rapidly being split-up and plotted to raise concrete structures on them. The rural population is migrating to the cities while the youth is flock to foreign lands in search of manual labour, leaving the villages’ youth-less. Once cultivated green fields of paddy, now lie barren. Little knowledge is evidently dangerous. At the same time, ample knowledge is also causing the youth to leave their villages in search of skilled labour. An educated person shouldn’t work on the fields, they say. Meanwhile, the ever-changing governments are too busy shuffling about their papers to notice what is going on. There is a fuel crisis. There is a gas crisis. There is a water crisis. The whole country it seems is in a state of perpetual crisis. Forget catching up in the race to prosperity, we are steadily decelerating.

Nation paralysed form Years long political chaos and confusions renders no option in youth flocks flawing to the Middle East and wherever foreign in search of an opportunity to earn bliss has been far more sustaining the nation from the drops earned from the hardcore labour. Hundreds of packed boxes every month landing in the international airport and the broken families in absence of a guardians, husbands, sons, daughters, keens and so on leaves none driven unemotional. Why not our policy makers develop and the administrators deploy the measures that option the tragedy and create the opportunity in our own land.

Agriculture, the main source of most Nepalese livelihood and backbone of Nepali culture and society, is being left way behind in this race, to the detriment of the people. Agriculture is not only the way of progress, but no one can disagree that in Nepal’s case; its development should be second to none as it holds the promise of real prosperity for all. Even considering industry, without agriculture, none of the raw materials necessary for production of goods, are available. Without the involvement of the Nepali youth in agriculture, neither is industrial development possible, nor will unemployment be resolved.

Earning $200 a month in a foreign land can be a present success but, it is not sustainable in the long term. In fact, if agriculture is pursued scientifically, its dividends have the potential of being way more than the miserly $200 a month that many Nepali youth leave their country for. Little investment in our own land; growing vegetables, raising orchards, promoting floriculture and promoting agro forestry will go a long way.

Commercial crops like cotton (white gold) in the western part of Nepal, tobacco for the international market, Jute in eastern part, tea and coffee are all currency whose value we are failing to realise. For example, sugarcane production not only solves sugar shortage, but the by-product of sugarcane after milling can even be used as fuel.

Ethyl alcohol is produced from molasses (sugarcane by-product) which is later blended with 10-20 percent petrol to make an excellent Bio-fuel. Brazil produces 11.7 billion liters of ethanol per annum to run about 6.5 million vehicles. Why can’t we? Likewise, bio-diesel from Jatropha is another possibility. Off season vegetable production and vegetable seed production in the mid hills of Nepal can be developed as the short term strategies for the solution of ongoing foreign flaw of youth migration in the golf to sustain their families. In addition the market across the border to India and the developing off-valley urban hubs can be exploited for their immense market potentiality.

Our coffee and tea are of best standards in the world while the medicinal herbs in our country are internationally souyght-after. We just need to invest to properly utilize them.

Agriculture not only promotes better living standards, but also promotes tourism; agri-tourism, eco-tourism. Wealth is all around us in the form of arable land. We just have to plant the seeds and a good germination will serve as well as a currency tree.

Originally posted on Madhu Personal blog.

ICTs and Family Farming

ICT in agriculture NepalMore than ever, communication and community media has taken a pace for social change in rural areas. Improved communication facilitates access to timely information for improved agricultural production and above all, encouraging farmer participation in the rural development process.

Generally, farmers have limited access to information sources. To maximize the productivity, farmers should have instant access to information on the real time basis. Access to updated market price, weather information, cultivation practices, disease pest control could really help farmers in maximizing farm productivity and profitability.

Information Communication Technology (ICT) provides farmer with opportunity to have their voices heard. This is a break from traditional method of sharing information which were essentially one way.

One of the initiative “KISHAN CALL CENTRE” initiated by Agricare Pvt. Ltd provides information to farmers through Toll free landline service. I got chance to interview one of the employer of “KISHAN CALL CENTRE”  Ms. Sangita Dwadi for getting more information.

She said that they receive calls of farmers from 68 different districts out of 75 with 40-50 average calls per day. Generally, they have 2-3 employees to receive calls from farmers. They have good understanding in major issues, under major issues they connect to experts from research organizations, farmers cooperatives and scientists in different regions.

Starting this initiative, they distributed leaflets, posters, brochures to different co-operative organizations, Farmers groups, District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) and NGOs  for disseminating their service.

Chitwan based KISHAN CALL CENTRE has now reached with their services to 16,000 farmers of 68 different districts. They have been providing services regarding cultivation practices, identification of disease/pest and recommendation of effective disease/pest management practices.

 When I asked her about how you suggest solution to farmers with their problem, she replied that they start searching other  possible symptoms when farmers come up with small hints and symptoms of particular infestations. If a farmer has problem of fruit rot of tomato, the possible infestation might be due to virus, disease, pest of mineral deficiency. They identify the problem by inquiring other related symptoms they might be facing. If farmer have no problem of flies or pest symptom and if they not even apply fertilizers, it might be due to mineral deficiency i.e Calcium deficiency. Thus they recommend  calcium treatment to cure it after detail analysis of symptoms.

This type of communication technology has been able to solve farmers’ problem within a short time. Farmers are fully satisfied from such resource saving, human cost and time saving services. It has also been successful in sharing of success stories, best practices and sharing of problems.

Sharing of problems, lesson learnt and good practices with wider community would help to address the challenges effectively and efficiently.

We have a tons of information that need to be disseminated to farmers. Culling out the right one at right time in right way is increasingly a challenge.

IYFF[AgriYouthNepal is celebrating International  Year of Family Farming  2014 (IYFF14) as a collaborative partner on YPARD Nepal Family Farming Photo Contest. To participate in to the contest send your pictures filling this registration form]

Farming and Family Farming

Truth, farming has always been an integral part of our lifestyle. And we will be needing farmers until the day we grow chlorophylls on ourselves.Majority of our farmers are actually smallholders who own family farms and previously believed that they farm only to feed themselves. But now statistics show they are actually the one who nourish the world. Believe it or not, 75% of total farmers are actually family farmers and they produce for 60% of the people. In USA alone 98% of all farms are actually family farms and 91% of which are smallholders. They contribute to 27% of total agricultural output. Still think small holders are substantial? Well, think again.

Family Farming in Nepal
So what are family farms? It is farm with different enterprises functioning in a symphony as one. It is owned by a family and passed down to young generation by inheritance. Since ages, it has been a basic unit of agricultural economy. Imagine, availability of healthy meat, vegetables, fruits, cereals and other products under one roof; quite awesome.
The UN finally understood the potentiality of these farms and the 66th General Assembly declared 2014 as International Year of Family Farming (IYFF14). IYFF collaborates with farmers, government and other agencies to identify, support and promote small scale farmers. They are trying to reposition family farming at the center of agriculture. They have realized its role to insure food security, quality, origin and diversity of food.
From ages we have been practicing small scale farming while from 60s we had been criticizing them for being inefficient laborious and insufficient. Beginning of new millennium and family farming went to become a big hit. As for all the good it carries, it should be. If not for family farms many of our local crops and livestock would vanish. We may not have Basmati and Anadi, Siri and Lulu, Hurra and Bhyanglung. Agrobiodiversity would be on the edge and agriculture would be ruled by hybrids, the world would taste the same.
Because of them we are accompanied by healthy lifestyle. Organic food mongers are increasing and prioritizing naturally grown produce. They are the reasons we are realizing sustainable farming. Due to them we are able to keep our viscera and our vicinity healthy.
In wests family farms are termed so just because they are owned by a family and can be inherited. But, here in our country family farms are the perfect example from textbook. They have small land holdings, technologically deprived, the output is low and costly and get inherited from father to sons.The small lands are still getting fragmented. Food is not enough to feed the farmers themselves. They are getting poorer, weaker and impatient. While government doesn’t even realize their existence; big financer and investors are totally neglecting. Co-operatives on the other hand have really come forward to support them.
Oh, what a pity! But do they really need sympathy?Absolutely not. What they really need is trust and guarantee. Family farmers should be given their basics like quality seeds and breeds. Proper inputs, devices, fertilizers and tools. Likewise availability of market, financers and insurers should be maintained. Subsidies are simply bonus.These might catapult the agricultural output and livelihood. Amidst all these facilities, rest of the world is still facing a serious problem, it is always sort of famers.
Farmers carry huge burden, immense pressure on these people don’t work with magic beans. The job requires toil, patience and it is not even respected.
Nobody wants to be a farmer, to this New York Times writes, “ People do not want their child to grow up to be farmer.” It is dirty, demanding and low. We prefer tie to pigsty or maybe Jaguar to tractor.Another major problem nowadays is farming is seen more like a luxury low. We prefer tie to pigsty or maybe Jaguar to be tractor.Another major problem nowadays is farming is seen more like a luxury. When rich aristocrats own farms to satisfy their In such cases, they will be underutilized and simply displayed as a trophy.
The government, the people and the businessman, everyone should realize the capacity of family farmers. Only a pat at he is not enough. It should be made stand tall in front of industrial farming. “How can we give them bigger responsibilities?” Should be in the mind of government. And. “How can we live upto the expectations and demand of the market?” Should be in the mind of the farmers.
Family farmers should be given their share of respect and responsibilities. And they should be established as professionals. This will ensure the promising future.
Let’s not just produce food, let’s produce farmers and let’s not just produce farmers. Let’s produce proud farmers.

Picture Credit: Susmita Paudel