National workshop on ecosystem-based commercial agriculture (ECA) in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal, May 9, 2011 – Policy-makers, researchers, entrepreneurs and representatives of development agencies working in Nepal met in Kathmandu for a National Workshop on Ecosystem Based Commercial Agriculture (ECA) in Nepal. The event included i) sharing of the concept of ECA system and practical experience, and ii) discussion on ways forward to promote ECA in Nepal through networking and coordination among various stakeholders working in agriculture sector.

Nepal has a comparative advantage in developing sustainable agriculture; and the existence of some good practices that are scattered across the nation can be an asset to this direction. But efforts are still lacking to consolidate these good practices into a viable system of value chain. There is no any appropriate agribusiness model to apply under such situation. The sector is still mainly dominated by subsistence farming, traditional farming practices, land fragmentation, and low level of knowledge and suffers with low productivity and production. The sector is struggling to catch up with rapid changes in terms of new technologies, viable products, emerging markets and business possibilities. There is a widespread negative perception among the local people towards farming as menial, tedious and an un-prestigious employment partially due to small remuneration and the use of traditional farming practices. These factors have led the rural people, especially youths, to migrate to urban areas and abroad in search of better livelihood opportunities and higher incomes, thus leaving their children and elderly family behind. This has been negatively affecting the technological up-gradation, which would increase production and the success of rural entrepreneurial activities.

In order to tap the huge potential that exist in Nepal’s agriculture sector and address the challenges of resource degradation, fragmented land holdings, erratic climate systems, poor market linkages and labor shortages currently being faced by this sector, ANSAB has envisioned ECA as a new program, which aims to transform the traditional forestry and agriculture into climate smart, attractive and socially prestigious business. A climate smart ECA system, as envisioned by ANSAB, increases the production and productivity in a sustainable way; improves the resilience of agro-ecosystems and people to climate change; reduces/removes green house gases; and attract youths and make it socially prestigious generating better remuneration. The ECA builds on the good results and best practices gained through ANSAB’s programs aimed at building prosperous communities through farm and forest based enterprises.

ANSAB’s Executive Director Dr. Bhishma P. Subedi, while presenting on the ECA, briefed on the emerging need of transformation of traditional agriculture to enterprise-oriented sustainable agriculture in order to sustain effectively and contribute to sustainable development. He presented on the comparative advantage of ECA, and ways forward to promote industrial competitiveness and growth of the sector.

Discussing on the concept, participants shared their organizational activities related to eco-friendly agriculture. The participants also provided their reflection on the ECA concept and its relevance. Mr. Ram P. Pulami, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Development shared on the activities as Integrated Pest Management and other recent initiatives from the Government to promote agriculture, which can be linked to the concept of ECA. Joint Secretary of Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation Dr. Annapurna N. Das told that “Nepal should focus its livelihood improvement and conservation program based on forestry-agriculture interface, and the right blend of agriculture and forestry a need for the country”. Mr. Dilli Ram Sharma, Program Director of Plant Protection Directorate told “there is IPM policy and the National IPM program has been planning to producing eco-friendly agriculture along with the promotion of IPM market in Kavre and Chitwan districts.” Dr. Pradhyuman Pandey of WTO Section/Ministry of Agriculture Development expressed that the ECA type of concept could focus on the Nepal’s unique Geographical Indications such as Himalayan Products for reaching international markets”.

Other participants participating and providing their useful insights were from Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC), Department of Agriculture, District Agriculture Development Offices (Kavre and Kathmandu), Department of Food Technology and Quality Control, International Rice Research Institute (IRRI)-Nepal, Rural Reconstruction Nepal (RRN), Practical Action, Mercy Corps-Nepal, United Mission to Nepal (UMN), IUCN Nepal, SNV Nepal, IDE-Nepal, Helvetas Nepal, Agro-Enterprise Center/FNCCI, Winorock/Kisan Program, INSAN, ACOS-Nepal, Society of Agriculture Scientists Nepal, USAID-Nepal, Nepal forum for Environmental Journalists (NEFEJ), Himalayan College of Agriculture Science and Technology (HICAST), Aashapri Organic Pvt. Limited, and Annapurna Organic, Hipat Agricultural Magazine.

For more information, please contact Sudarshan Khanal at [email protected].