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.