3 August 2012 | EN
Nepal farmers are not benefiting from its agri research, experts say.
Its agricultural research system is not only poorly funded, but "research per se has become irrelevant, it has not reached farmers," Bhag Mal, consultant for the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions (APAARI), said at a policy dialogue on agricultural research, held in Kathmandu last week (25 July).
The dialogue, organised by the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and APAARI, was part of a broader effort in Nepal, Bangladesh and India, to develop national and regional priorities for agriculture research.
Agriculture contributes up to 35 per cent of Nepal’s national wealth or gross domestic product (GDP), and supports the livelihood of over 60 per cent of its largely rural people, but farming research receives little attention.
Compared "with other countries in the South Asian region, funding for agriculture research in Nepal is very low," Pramod Joshi, director for South Asia at IFPRI, said. Nepal allocated 0.27 per cent of its budget to NARC for 2011-12, down from 0.53 per cent in 1997-1998.
Lack of research means that farmers, especially those living in the remote mountainous and far-western regions of the country, "do not have access to new, improved technologies, which are adapted to changing climate conditions," Devendra Gauchan, agricultural economist and chief of the socioeconomics and agri-research policy division at NARC, said.
While apples grown in the cool and dry climate of Mustang district, in north-central Nepal, have started to taste sour, but there are no research initiatives aimed at improving the valuable crop.
"Either apple orchards need to shift to higher altitudes, or we need to grow other low-chill varieties in the same location. But for that, we need to do research on low-chill varieties," explained Shreeram Neopane, chief of Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development, a Pokhara-based non-government organisation.
"Research to develop varieties resistant to emerging pests is also necessary," Neopane told SciDev.Net.
Additionally, "whatever new technology we develop, the delivery mechanism is so weak that it is not reaching poor farmers," Gauchan added.
For example, although NARC has released drought- and flood-tolerant varieties of rice in the last two years, most farmers still use varieties developed over two decades ago.
ScottJ ( CIMMYT | United States of America )
7 August 2012
I find myself in an awkward position of defending Nepal's NARS as I am often critical of it. But sensational headlining like this is not helpful. There are obvious gaps but there have been tremendous contributions by various and greatly underfunded research organizations. HYV use even if it is somewhat dated varieties in the three main crops rice, wheat and maize is extremely high and now even growing in the hill and mountains. Appropriately scaled mechanization/machinery use even among poor small farmers is growing. Machinery like two-wheel tractors, threshers/shellers, and irrigation pumpsets are spreading fast due to NARC, MOA and other special projects. Strengthening and increasing coordination between the various departments and projects would of course be welcomed.
Min Paudel ( Nepal )
10 August 2012
It is true that Government of Nepal has not given due consideration to agriculture research despite its potentially pivotal role in generation of technology that can generate rural employment and reduce hunger and poverty in remote and inaccessible food insecure regions of Nepal. Agriculture extension in other hand has not geared up with technologies suited to different niches of the country. Hence, there is two way bottleneck in agriculture i.e. a dearth of technology suited to diverse aggro-ecological domains and agriculture extension is disseminating technology without research backstopping. As a result agriculture is in a slippery road.
There are new innovation despite the under funded agriculture research in the country. One can find many improved varieties of major cereals (rice, maize, wheat) as a result of priority given for research by donors such as USAID, CGIAR and many more during seventies and eighties. The Nepalese government is not aware of of the long term nature of research. After a series of commitments (both financially and with high skilled trained manpower), outcome of research could not be materialized. Therefore, it is high time to give important to agriculture in general and research in special. Only then can Nepal sustain her poorly funded agriculture research. At least Nepal should earmark fund and priority for agriculture research as that of neighboring countries of SAARC region. Before getting late, to save vehicle of agriculture in the slip pry slope, one should recognize the importance of agriculture without delay.
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