Working for a better Future

Nepal is listed as the 12th poorest country in the world 4 in 10 people live in poverty. Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy, providing a livelihood for over 80% of the population. Of the 23 million people in Nepal 85% live in villages. Slow economic growth coupled with a large segment of the farming population lacking access to agricultural land has led to poverty among a large portion of the population.

 

Farming on the Terai

Forest coverage has declined dramatically over the past three decades as a result of land being cleared for agriculture and the growing need for energy sources. Non commercial energy sources, such as wood, animal waste and crop residues account for a significant share of the country’s total energy consumption. Oil is the main energy import. Landless and poor households are increasingly depend on public land and forest for their daily needs. The rise in the cost of producing food as a result of the rising price of fuel and the agro-chemical production associated with that is making it increasingly difficult for poor farmers. Globally, food prices are said to have been rising by 40% a year, according to the United Nations this alone will put another 100 million people worldwide into poverty.

UN calls for farming revolution
A UN report released in April 2008 has called for urgent changes to the way food is produced, as soaring food prices risk driving millions of people to poverty. A study by Unesco recommends better safeguards to protect resources and more sustainable farming practices, such as producing food locally. More natural and ecological farming techniques should be used.

A group of 400 experts spent three years researching the report. The authors found:

  • Progress in agriculture has reaped very unequal benefits and has come at a high social and environmental cost.
  • Food producers should try using “natural processes” like crop rotation and use of organic fertilisers.
  • The distance between the producer and consumer should be reduced.
  • Agriculture that is less dependent on fossil fuels and that favours the use of locally available resources must be developed.

In order to bring about this much needed change education is at the forefront of any move towards sustainable agriculture. Farmers and villagers in Nepal need to have support and assistance to be able to make the change from a system dependent on the use of fossil fuels. A number of groups in Nepal have been working in and offering training courses in sustainable agriculture for many years.
Experience has shown that farmers are keen to adopt these methods and as a result of this education in ecological farming has begun in Gaidakot. Education programmes have been running since 2006 in the form of farmers field training sessions and environmental farming studies at school level. Providing information and support to the community will help to bring about important changes in the future of farming and at the same time help to alleviate poverty and improve food security.