Ecosystem-based commercial agriculture in Nepal: Program update

Over the past some years, ANSAB has envisioned a concept of Ecosystem-based Commercial Agriculture (ECA) with the goal of transforming conventional agriculture and forestry into climate smart and prestigious business. ECA focuses on agriculture production and marketing of products and services in an ecologically sustainable, economically competitive, and socially justifiable manner. Since 2012, ANSAB, with support from blue moon fund (bmf), have initiated activities towards Designing Agribusiness Model for ECA under the project Nepal Center of Excellence in Rural Development, which ended in August 2015.

The project introduced improved varieties of vegetables, fruits, and cereals seeds in over ten selected sites; representing high mountains, mid-mountains and Tarai low land. Under soil nutrient management, the producers were trained for the preparation of organic manure and bioorganic fertilizer, vermicomposting, improved compost and liquid bio-pesticides. Likewise, the irrigation technology mainly drip, sprinkler, pipe, rain water harvesting, solar powered irrigation, water storage and lifting, ground water lifting and pipe irrigation were installed in project sites and farm technology such as improved sheds, net, insect traps and dryers were placed.

In order to integrate the producers in the value chains, three agribusiness models varying in partnership modality between community groups and private sectors were developed: i) partnership through contribution of land and labor by local community, ii) partnership through cooperative/group of interested local farmers, and iii) partnership through leasing of public land. Also, the project identified five major value chains under ECA by analyzing the competitiveness and growth prospects: yacon, shiitake mushroom, vegetable seeds, organic vegetables and fruits, and solid biofuel. To develop these value chains, three new lead firms namely Ashapuri Organic Farm (AOF), Ashapuri Organic Pvt. Ltd. (AOPL), and Innovative Agro-Solutions (IAS) were established and Himalayan Naturals Pvt. Ltd (HNPL), a lead farm previously developed by ANSAB for charcoal briquette was capacitated to promote solid biofuel. The marketing strategies for these ECA farm products were developed and marketing campaign including public awareness through print media, establishment of sales outlet, and promotions through brochures, leaflets, flexes and stickers were done.

Two Experimentation and Demonstration Centers were developed in Kavrepalanchok and Sindhupalchok districts, each for ECA and biomass based energy to transfer practical knowledge and skills through training and demonstration.

An ECA forum has been built based on the task force from a national workshop on ECA with participation from several stakeholders to influence the national policy reform and other program development on ECA that will benefit farmers and the environment. ECA program also provided advisory and capacity building support to the government programs and projects through study works and participation in various workshops and seminars.