Studies have shown that sustainable agriculture is the key to improving livelihood of the people in far western and mid-western regions. Many districts of the food deficit regions heavily depend on imported foods. As the production is low, farmers are facing lack of food security, with the stark threat looming over the people to go without nutrients.
Despite several projects and programs for farmers, they are yet to see any tangible progress in the agricultural sector. At a time when the government is searching a new way to improve productivity of the agriculture sector, four INGOs have come up with a project to contribute to Nepal’s agricultural revolution, food security and better livelihood for 26,000 households.
With funds from the European Union, ADRA-Nepal, Dan Church Aid, IDE Nepal and Practical Action will implement the project in close coordination with the Ministry of Agricultural Development and local communities.
The project is the first of its kind in bringing four INGOs together with the total budget of 2.6 million Euros, including 29 percent co-financing from the implementing INGOs, which have wide and extensive knowledge of Nepal’s agriculture sector.
The project will be implemented in Accham, Bajhang, Bajura, Banke, Dang, Doti and Rolpa districts of far-western and mid-western regions. The main focus of the initiative is to improve agricultural productivity and livelihoods, food security and child nutrition. According to sources, the three themes are interlinked to accelerate development. Adequate child nutrition is an investment in the future, instrumental for cognitive development and healthy and productive lives. Similarly, food security is the basic necessity for decent lives and enhanced agricultural productivity is needed to afford better livelihoods.
The projects will concentrate on five major sub-sectors vegetables, cereal, goats, spices and Non-Timber Forest Products. They will mainly build state of the art capacity for increased agricultural productivity, pro-poor value chain development, nutritional awareness and resilience of pro-poor value chain development, nutritional awareness and resilience of poor farmers.
Launched by Minister for Agricultural Development Hari Prasad Parajuli, the project will benefit 26,000 vulnerable households in seven poorest districts of Nepal in terms of economic growth and social mobilsation.
“The implementation agencies must not forget how to make the project sustainable for the long run. We had very bitter experiences of the past when many achievements disappeared as soon as the projects wrapped up," said Minister Parajuli. "This time the project will learn from the previous experiences not to repeat the past mistake.”
He said: “Agriculture is the main sector for development. Nepal's graduation to developing countries is impossible without making tangible progress in the agriculture sector. It is good to know that four important INGOs joined together to change the livelihood of the people.”
Although Nepal has been launching various programs in the agriculture sector, Nepal’s agriculture productivity remains the lowest. “As there are four INGOs involved, the ministry expects there will be better coordination with district level agriculture Extension and Development office,” said Jaya Mukunda Khanal, secretary at the Ministry of Agricultural Development. “The Ministry will provide all kinds of support to implement the project.”
As European Union has been supporting various projects in Nepal, this project, however, has different modality as it brings four INGOs together. The EU and Nepal are about to significantly intensify their cooperation – 630 million Euro for the period 2014-2020 and sustainable rural development will be a key area. "The challenges are huge but also the potential,” said Andreas Rottger, head of Cooperation, Delegation of European Union. “The joint initiative will make a meaningful contribution.”
As agriculture is the key to achieving the high economic growth, Nepal government has given high priority to the agriculture sector. “Instead of going individually to implement the projects, this is the right approach to bring four different agencies together. This will help stop the duplication of the project works,” said Dr. Bharatendu Mishra, member of National Planning Commission.
“Launching the project jointly, we want to show how all of us can make a difference in the livelihood of the people,” said David Smith, Regional Representative Dan Church Aid, and South Asia.
As there is a vacuum at the local level, INGOs are only organizations now to carry out the development activities through the community mobilization. “Social Welfare Council believes that INGOs and NGOs can play very important role in mobilization of communities in development activities,” said Rabindra Kumar, member secretary of the council.
Among the four INGOs, Practical Action will launch the project in Doti, Achham, Bajura and Bajhang for the promotion of sustainable agriculture for nutrition and food security. The cost of project is 927,688 Euro. Similarly, ADRA and IDE will launch the program in Dang, Rolpa and Banke for initiative for agricultural productivity and commercialization. The cost of project is 933,333 Euro.
Dan Church Aid will work in Doti and Achham districts in sustainable agricultural development for smallholder and marginalized farmers in far western hills of Nepal. The cost of project is 800,000 Euro.
The projects will cover 48 Village Development Committees. They will work with local partners like SEBAC Nepal, Equality Development Center in Doti, SEBAC Nepal, Mslika Development Organization in Accham, Saipal in Bajura and Bajhang, Development Concern Society, Agriculture Enterprise Center and Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal (SAPPROS) in Rolpa, Dang and Banke. Similarly, Backward Education Society (BASE), and AEC will also be involved in Dang and Banke.
The project will promote sub-sector cereal crops, Vegetable, Goat, Spices and NTFP. “To increase the agricultural productivity, the project will intervene through irrigation technology, improved agricultural technology, agricultural extension service, Practical Answer, Youth Agriculture Technologies and community based climate resilient practices,” said Dr. Sujan Piya, head of the program, Practical Action.
As the far western region is regarded as a region of lowest nutrition status, the project aims to improve the nutrition status in three years. The project will intervene through homestead integrated home gardening , promotion of neglected but nutritious crops and school led nutrition awareness and campaigns.
In agriculture commercialization, the project will make efforts to integrate the agriculturally productive areas into the market. This will help increase the access of farmers at the market.