Nepalese agriculture is predominantly characterized by small holders; the national average of holding size is 0.8 ha. About two-thirds of the households have a farm size of 0.5 ha or less. This necessitates looking for an appropriate value chain model in favor of the poor farmers. CEAPRED, being a pro-poor focused development organization, has been adopting the strategies towards making market for the poor since its inception in 1991 – 22 years ago.
The salient features of this approach have been the following:
Mobilization of self-help groups of farmers organized to undertake commercial farming enterprises, mostly related to high value agriculture, such as off-season vegetables, vegetable seeds (for land based interventions), and small livestock (piggery, goat for non-land based interventions). Depending on the available local natural resources and potentials, enterprises are selected by the beneficiaries, and they are trained in the areas of their interest.
Capacity in terms of leadership development, organizational and business management and technologies is developed.
Commercial production thus achieved is linked to markets through community managed collection centers where traders and representatives of producers (commonly through cooperatives) negotiate for price and then sell.
Collection centers are modestly equipped with market information system, book keeping of quantity of products by farmers and the price at which the product was sold.
Depending on the volume of trade, the collection centers run daily or for defined days in the week (usually 2-3 times in a week). Traders come to collection centers on the specified day to upload the products.
CEAPRED encourages the beneficiaries to form a cooperative, and usually phases out its interventions after the cooperatives are trained and made self-operating. This has been a sustainable way of ending the program.
The studies undertaken by GDN have not focused on this uniqueness of Nepal’s experience in pro-poor commercialization of agriculture. However, the findings of the study will be relevant to cooperatives that have gone to a very high scale of commercialization e.g. cooperative in Sidhuwa of Dhankuta district.
(Upadhyaya is executive director of CEAPRED. Excerpts of his statement based on his observation in the workshop.)