Stories tagged: nepal

10 Ways Agriculture is Improving Lives in Asia

In this latest instalment of our “Supporter Spotlight” series, we take a trip to Asia to learn about the innovative projects Farming First supporters are working on all over the continent to improve food security and farmers’ lives.

1. Fintrac: Beating Drought with Smart Water Management in Cambodia

When the rains did not come in 2015, one group of farmers in the northeastern province of Pursat not only survived, but thrived. They had banded together to form a Water User Group, that managed farmer access to the Polyum Canal. By maximising efficiency and eliminating conflict around water use, and using good agricultural practices taught by the Cambodia HARVEST program, group members have increased their productivity from an average of 2,500 kilograms per hectare to more than 4,000. As a result, their household incomes have increased by 536 percent! Read more >>

2. GAIN: Meet the Wheatamix Women in India

Through funding from the Bestseller Foundation, GAIN is working in the states of Karnataka and Bihar in India to improve the nutrition and lives of groups of semi-literate women. These women are trained to run their own factories producing a quality blended complementary food product called ”Wheatamix” in Bihar and “Shakhti Vita” in Karnataka. This complementary food product, fortified with vitamins and minerals, has the potential to reach thousands of women, adolescents and children in the region. Read more >>


3. CropLife: An Indian Farmer Perspective on Biotechnology

In this interview with CropLife International, Balwinder Singh shares his experience of planting an insect-resistant strain of cotton. “I was lucky to be part of the trial when Bt cotton came to India, and when I saw the benefits of this technology; I was the first person to say, this is what is going to save us,” he said. “I took a gamble, and took an additional 50 hectares of land on lease to sow Bt cotton.  It has paid off and my family is enjoying a decent living.” Read more >>

4. IPNI: Healthier Soils Make Indian Farmers More Maize

Access to water has created a challenge for many Indian farmers, increasing interest in alternative crops to flooded rice. Working in West Bengal, research staff at the International Plant Nutrition Institute have focused on developing a rice-maize rotation as an alternative to rice to address the water challenge. Research showed that adding potassium, phosphorus, sulphur and zinc in order to grow maize effectively added US$80 – $290/ha to the farmer’s income. Not only was the maize yield increased, but similar responses were recorded in the rice in these on-farm trials. Read more >>

5. CNFA: Building a Network for Agro-Input Services in Bangladesh 

CNFA implements the USAID-funded Agro-Inputs Project (AIP) to improve the knowledge of and access to quality agricultural inputs for farmers in Bangladesh. CNFA provides trainings and technical assistance on business management and ethics, basic agronomics, safe use and handling of pesticides and other related topics to 3,000 agro-input retailers. Of this, 300 women-retailers are specifically targeted. These agro-input retailers are expected to serve 1 million smallholder farmers, impacting more than 5 million individuals across 20 southern districts of Bangladesh, generating more than $100 million in sales. Read more >>

6. Livelihoods: Mangroves Restore Agricultural Land in Indonesia 

In 1987, Northern Sumatra had 200,000 hectares of mangroves. Today, less than half of that amount remains, with only 83,000 hectares standing. This Livelihoods project has restored mangrove forests, and as a result, increases the safety of the local population. Replanting coastal mangroves significantly buffers coastal communities from future tsunamis akin to that of the 2004 tsunami. Mangrove forests also help to restore vital agricultural land. Additionally, this project generates new sources of economic income. Local villagers are able to increase their revenues by selling the by-products of the mangroves such as fish, mollusks, batik dye and honey. Read more >>


7. HarvestPlus: Iron Pearl Millet Enriches Diets in India

Iron deficiency is rampant in India, affecting 7 out of 10 children. It impairs mental development and learning capacity, increases weakness and fatigue, and may increase the risk of women dying during childbirth. HarvestPlus is working with partners to promote varieties of pearl millet rich in iron, to help combat malnutrition. Read more >>

8. iDE: Saving Time and Earning Money Through Water Access in Nepal 

Rural villages in Nepal lack several basic services, but the primary issue for many is access to water. Multiple-Use Water Systems (MUS) are an improved approach to water resource management, which taps and stores water and distributes it to households in small communities to meet both domestic and household agricultural needs. In addition to dramatically decreasing the workload of women and girls, MUSs provide benefits in health and sanitation, as well as enabling communities to improve their decisions on the allocation of water resources. “After we got the water it was easy to grow vegetables,” says Kamala Pariyar, a rural farmer in Dikurpokhari. “I used to ask my husband for money to buy basic things. Now, by selling the vegetables, I can earn 600 rupees a day. I have enough money.” Read more >>

9. World Vision: Mangrove Planting Revitalizes Philippine Fishing Community

When a fishing village in the western part of Leyte in the Philippines was struggling to catch enough to feed their families, World Vision helped to implement a mangrove planting initiative. Each family was provided with an average of 1,000 mangrove stalks to plant in the area near their house, to provide a safe habitat of various species of fish, where they can lay their eggs without being disturbed by double net fishing. There is now abundant fish for catching once more, and the community is protected from the risk of typhoons. Read more >>


10. IFA: Combatting Iodine Deficiencies Through Fertigation

Globally it is estimated that 2.2 billion people in the world are at a risk of iodine deficiency, which causes a wide range of physiological abnormalities, mainly related to defective mental development and brain damage. The content of iodine in food depends on the iodine content of the soils in which crops are grown. In Xinjiang Province, in the North West of China, the soil is particularly poor in iodine with an associated high infant-mortality rate. A project was put in place to supply the water irrigation system with iodine using an iodine fertilizer dripping technique, called fertigation. With this technique, the iodine from the treated water is absorbed by the soil and progresses through plants, animals and humans that eat the iodine-rich plants. Thanks to this project, rates of infant mortality halved and local livestock production increased by 40% in the first year! Read more >>

Do you have an inspiring story about Asian agriculture? Tweet @FarmingFirst and tell us about it!

Madhu Sudhan Ghimire: Getting Nepal on the Road to Resilient Recovery

In this guest blog post, Madhu Sudan Ghimire, an agriculture student from Nepal urges for action to be taken to support rural communities and farmers, to avoid a food crisis in the country following the recent earthquake. This post is part Farming First’s ongoing partnership with the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD) network,

It was Saturday 25th of April 2015: a normal day when my country was celebrating the weekly public holiday. Everything was fine until an earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale shook Nepal at 11:56 am local time killing thousands of people in a flash. Many more were injured, nearly half a million houses were destroyed completely and some 3.5 million people are now in need of food assistance. All sectors of the country’s economy have been hit hard by the quake, according to the US Geological Survey the economic losses could be as much as $10bn. However the sector that depends on the seasons and the natural resources – agriculture – will be worst hit.

The agriculture sector employs 70 per cent of the population affected by the earthquake, and accounts for more than 35 per cent of national GDP. The 14 affected districts account for almost 10 per cent of national output of rice, and almost 20 per cent of national output of maize. Although damage to the agriculture sector has not yet been assessed, affected families have likely lost livestock, crops, food stocks and valuable agricultural inputs. The disaster has destroyed markets and infrastructure, including roads and crucial irrigation and drainage canals. As a result, internal trade, including the movement of emergency aid, is severely constrained.

Nepal’s estimated wheat production in 2015 will now be much lower than the forecast 1.8 million tonnes. Farmers who miss the planting season that is expected to start in late May will be unable to harvest rice – the country’s staple food — until late 2016. This, together with likely losses of food stocks and wheat and maize harvests, will severely limit food supplies and incomes in the South Asian country.

Prioritising Resilient Recovery

In meeting the agricultural needs of communities, interventions should be phased and designed appropriately to support and promote resilient livelihood recovery. This means not only focusing on the effects of this earthquake, but rather having a comprehensive approach to reduce the vulnerability of households to other more frequent hazards, such as landslides, floods, droughts, pests and diseases.

The following are several areas that could be prioritized in agricultural recovery programmes to promote resilient recovery.

Seed and fertilizer availability: Seeds for millet must be made available for farmers, to avoid a further threat to household food security from October onwards. Much of the rice, maize and millet crops in storage in these districts has been destroyed, and the rice planting window is nearly over. Making good quality seed and appropriate fertilizer available to farmers in order to grow millet and vegetables which can be planted now, will be key.

Agricultural Tools, Fertilizer and Labour: The proportion of agricultural tools destroyed is particularly high in the six affected districts, and this will seriously reduce capacity for cultivation. Household access to fertilizer reduced, further threatening production prospects in the summer cropping season. A steep reduction in labour availability for agriculture is apparent as households struggle to meet more urgent shelter needs for themselves and their livestock – this must be addressed.

Shelter and veterinary services for livestock: Livestock ownership is a major contribution to agricultural livelihoods; in Nepal 80 per cent of households own animals. Up to 16 per cent of cattle and 36 per cent of poultry was lost in the quake, with many more animals injured and sick. Animal health is at risk due to lack of shelter and feed and limited access to veterinary services. Production of animal products has been reduced due to stress syndromes and deteriorated health conditions, affecting household consumption and income earning. The provision of veterinary services could combat this. Recovery of shelter, support to feed and water livestock access will need to continue beyond the next three months. Restocking of livestock will become necessary and appropriate once the health conditions of surviving animals can be guaranteed and households can access sufficient feeding.

Agricultural Infrastructure: If not repaired quickly, damage to small-scale irrigation will have significant negative consequences on crop production in the winter cropping season. Damage to Agricultural and Livestock Service Centre buildings and facilities will seriously affect the ability of extension staff to provide technical services to farmers.

Lack of funding for agriculture and inadequate manpower may hamper efforts to provide immediate support to affected populations. But the government, as well as international community, must give equal priority rural and urban areas – as it will be the rural areas producing the food for the rest of the country. We must act now to prevent a food crisis for Nepal in the future.

Lewis Temple: Building businesses in the skies

Our guest author, Lewis Temple, Chief Executive for International Development Enterprises UK, highlights some of his organisation’s latest work in Nepal that has stimulated business in the remote, mountainous regions of the Himalayas.

Growing food in high-altitude areas of Nepal can be extremely difficult. Geographically remote, isolated from markets and subject to changing climatic patterns – these areas provide a tough reality for local rural people. Can you imagine trying to access goods and services when you live 4,000m above sea level in the middle of the Himalayas with no road network?

Since 1992 iDE has used a business or market-driven approach to change the lives of one and a quarter million of these poor rural people in Nepal.

It started by designing and marketing innovative, yet affordable technologies like drip irrigation kits, to encourage fruit and vegetable production in the dry season so that farmers could increase their income and earn their way out of poverty.

Farmers on average earn an extra £140 per year from accessing these technologies. Kamal (pictured) has made £300 selling high-value tomatoes that he grew an incredible 4,000m above sea level.


This is no small feat – but working with individual farmers has its limits. If we are to reach many thousands more smallholders we need to engage the private sector to view farmers like Kamal as customers and offer a range of productivity-enhancing products and services closer to small farm communities.

But how can this be done in the mountainous and often isolated communities in Nepal?

iDE’s answer is to use something we call a ‘Commercial Pocket Approach’ built around Rural Collection Centres. This involves bringing together all the market actors in the local area so that they can all become profitable businesses.  This includes the smallholder farmers, private sector input retailers that sell seeds, fertiliser and irrigation equipment, and the buyers of the produce.

These market actors meet regularly at the collection centres to coordinate efforts. For example:

  • They plan together to ensure that the agricultural inputs like seeds and irrigation equipment are available at the right time. If a farmer wants to grow apples, carrots and tomatoes during the off-season they will pass on this information to an input retailer to organise the timely delivery of quality seeds, fertilisers and other farm inputs. The supplier gets an income and the farmer can grow large volumes of high quality produce – a win-win situation
  • Then, they ensure the buyers know when to expect the produce. If a farmer informs a buyer to expect 100 heads of cabbage in three weeks’ time demand and supply can be established. The farmer can guarantee good sale and the buyer doesn’t waste time travelling to the collection centre.
  • Finally, they ensure the farmers have a good idea of what kind of produce is available in the market and market prices. If a farmer has access to up-to-date, accurate market information they can capture the best price for their produce – for example by harvesting and selling tomatoes when the price is highest at the collection centre.

By establishing and scaling these smallholder commercial pockets we are catalysing   the private sector and building demand for products and services that farmers need to grow their businesses.

Today over 150 rural collection centres serve 100,000 farming families – to celebrate iDE’s success we have put together an exciting graphic presentation for you. I hope you enjoy it: