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Agriculture and Food Security Project (AFSP) Nepal: An Initiative to Fight Against Hunger



Background

Household food deficiency due to low agricultural productivity, limited livelihood opportunities, inefficient food distribution system, weak market linkage, poor infrastructure and lack of awareness among general public about healthy food habit are some of the development challenges in Nepal. Within the country western Nepal suffer more from poverty and hunger with 37% of the people living below the poverty line compared to the national average of 25.16%. Similarly, productivity of major crops is significantly lower than the national average which is already among the lowest in South Asia. Per capita consumption of animal products (32 litres of milk, 7.5 kg of meat and 6.4 eggs per capita per annum) is among the lowest in the region hunger indices pointing to an extremely alarming situation.Household food balance (result of food inflow, household production, household consumption and outflow) is negative almost throughout the year in the region. 

Government of Nepal has developed a Country Investment Plan (CIP) in 2010 in consultation with donors, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to comprehensively address the gap of funding in the area of agriculture and food security issues including availability, access and utilization of food. The Agriculture and Food Security Project (AFSP) is well aligned with country need and government priorities. Building on a Country Investment Plan (CIP) to comprehensively address agriculture and food security issues, the Government of Nepal (GoN) submitted an investment proposal to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) and was competitively awarded a grant of US$46.5 million in June 2011. GoN has designed Agriculture and Food Security Project (AFSP) of US$58 million dollar including US$11.5 million GoN contribution to be implemented from FY 2013/14 for 5 years.  

Competition between sheep and kangaroos in Southern Australia

by Yadav Sharma Bajagai


Summery  

Millions of sheep and kangaroos share the same habitat in the sheep rangelands of southern Australia and dietary competition between these two species has been a matter of concern to pastoralists, conservation ecologists and animal scientists for long time. This issue has been tried to be addressed in this article. It is found that sheep and kangaroos both positively select grass and forb resulting considerable overlapping in their diet during flush season. But when grasses are in short supply during drought, sheep are forced to eat more of less preferred vegetation (chenopods). Sheep are more flexible than kangaroos to shift into chenopods and other shrubs decreasing the overlap in diet during dry season. Dietary competition is not significant when pasture biomass production is high (>30 g DM/m2) but it requires due attention when there is low biomass production during drought. Issue has been discussed and recommendation has been drawn.


Scaling up Climate Services for Farmers

Scaling up Climate Services in Nepal in the Context of Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change

by Yadav Sharma Bajagai



Being large number of farmers depending on subsistence agriculture on rain-fed land, Nepal is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change and frequent spells of weather extremes. Unique geographical terrain, insufficient capacity of public institutions and almost absence of early warning system with regard to climate services even intensify such vulnerability of small holder farmers. Although farmers have well adapted through ages of experiences to normal seasonal variation in weathers, they are not sufficiently prepared to cope with recent rapid and erratic climate and weather variability. Effective climate services offering reliable climate information and advisory services to farmers, so that they can prepare themselves for such changes and make informed decisions, are very crucial in this context.

The best resolution ever we can make

by Yadav Sharma Bajagai


Jagat Bahadur Shahi (name changed) of Mugu, one of the remote districts of Nepal, hardly remembers when he has been able to feed their fill to his children last time. His six years old daughter and four years old son are so severely malnourished that anyone with kind heart cannot stop tear rolling down his/her eyes seeing them. These children had to bear the demise of their loving mother and Jagat Bahadur's caring wife last year as she was not lucky enough to get adequate food during her pregnancy.  Pouring salt on his wound, his two years old daughter leaved the world last month due to malnutrition. 

Every morning Jagat Bahadur wakes up with a dream of having enough food to feed his children. He has a desire neither for a cozy house nor for a luxury car. He doesn't have a dream to send his children in expensive private school.  He just prays to have a handful of rice for his two little cuties. 

Policy Reform and Strategies for Agricultural Development in Nepal



by Yadav Sharma Bajagai


The Nepalese economy is fundamentally agrarian and the agriculture contributes to approximately one third of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and the largest source of informal employment to the people.  Reducing poverty, improving food security and achieving sustainable development cannot be imagined in the agrarian economy like Nepal without inclusive development of agriculture sector. Two major requirements for the development of agriculture sector in our context are adequate investment and conducive policies. 

One of the major constraints faced by the agriculture sector in Nepal is the under-investment from both public and private sectors. Ministry of Agriculture Development is receiving approximately 3% of national budget which is not sufficient to promote adequate agricultural growth and ensure food security to ever-growing population. Out of this inadequate allocation, significant amount of public expenditure is being expended to give price subsidy in agricultural inputs mainly fertilizer. It has been also criticized that larger farmers are mainly benefitted by input subsidies rather than small and marginal ones. To get the best possible returns from subsidy policies, they should be subjected to a genuine cost benefit analysis and review. If allocated budget could have been invested in capacity building, rural infrastructure development and research in agriculture sector instead, it would have given far better results. It is experienced that producers are more concerned to easy access of these inputs than price. 

As subsidies have usually been politically sensitive agenda, it might be difficult to completely do away with them, but they should be subjected to improved modalities and management so that small and marginal farmers also benefit. 

The state is obviously not in the position to sufficiently invest in the agriculture particularly in developing countries which are in transition like Nepal. However, the government can draw other public and private sector investment by creating favorable investment climate.  As agriculture is predominantly small-scale, labor intensive and subsistence in our context; small farmers are the largest investors of agriculture. Therefore, farmers should be at the center to formulate any strategy related to agricultural development. Government policies should promote those agribusiness models which are in favour of small scale producers. 

Significant proportion of small scale farmers do not own the land they cultivate. Investment of these farmers to technology and farm level infrastructure to enhance production and productivity cannot be at optimum level unless there is perceived tenure security among these farmers. Marginal farmers cannot afford the risk of investing in uncertain rights of land tenure. This is inter alia one fundamental issue need to be addressed in our policy to increase private sector investment in agriculture and thus increase production and productivity of agriculture sector. 

Although private sector investment in Agriculture is mostly from scattered and unorganized small farmers, large scale corporate investment has been initiated in some sub-sectors mainly high value commodities like poultry and dairy. Favorable investment climate can attract corporate investors in other sub-sectors in future.  Large scale private investment in agriculture can create employment, transfer technologies and create forward and backward linkages. Although corporate investment could be the driving force for commercialization and modernization of agriculture if properly backed up by appropriate policies, there is risk that these investments may bypass small scale producers and pose additional risk to the livelihood of local communities. This can be prevented by the policy which ensures transparency and accountability of large investment. Governance of these large scale investments should be cautiously addressed in agricultural policy. 

Therefore, forthcoming agricultural development strategy should attract large investors but in the mean time interest of small farmers should be protected with due respect to the rights of small scale marginal producers. The policy should promote transparency and accountability of large investment and also ensure meaningful inclusion of local communities preventing transfer of productive capitals mainly land. Connection and relationship between large scale investors and small scale marginal producers should be a win-win model. This connection can be strengthened by mechanisms to ensure benefit sharing from large scale investment to the local communities. The strategy should promote direct involvement of local farmers in agriculture value chain. For example, contract farming regulated by appropriate and clear policy could be an option to attract large scale investment without transferring ownership of land and serving the interest of both. 

Moreover, youths are not sufficiently motivated to invest their time and money in the agriculture sector resulting either the agricultural land left barren or feminization of agriculture due to emigration of young males in search of employment. Policies to attract large corporate investors in agriculture may not necessarily motivate those youths to the agriculture sector as employment in agriculture sector is usually less attractive than in other sectors. Therefore, Agriculture Development Strategy should address this issue and create policies to attract youths in the agriculture sector. 

Thus, Increasing investment in agriculture is a must for reducing poverty, achieving sustainable development, and enhancing food security. Increased investment in agriculture will be beneficial to the country in the real sense only if the investments can help alleviate poverty and enhance food security of vulnerable communities. As government investment is not sufficient, appropriate policy and legal and institutional framework should be in place to create a favorable climate for investment. In our context, agriculture development policy should be in favor of small scale marginal producers and suitable to specific agro-climatic realities, but in the meantime, they should not hinder large scale investments capable of bringing equitable and balanced growth to the agriculture sector.

P.S. This article has been published in the Republica (http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=49847) of 13 February 2013. 

Basic Concepts of Food Security: Definition, Dimensions and Integrated Phase Classification



by Yadav Sharma Bajagai

"Food Security" is one of major elements of development and poverty alleviation and has been the goal of many international and national public organizations. The issue is so important that according to the state of food insecurity in the world 2012 published by FAO around 870 million people (out of which 852 million from developing countries) are estimated to have been undernourished in the period 2010-12. Although the phrase "Food Security" is being used widely, the definition and concept of food security is elusive and being evolved and expanded over time.

Impacts of climate change on Emperor Penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri)

by Yadav Sharma Bajagai

Emperor penguins (Aptenodytes forsteri) are regarded as an icon of Antarctica due to its peculiar appearance and behaviour. These are the largest of all penguins adapted to extreme climatic condition of Antarctica [1] and are particularly susceptible to environmental changes in southern ocean as a result of global climate change due to being ice-obligate species [2]. Size of the bird also increases its susceptibility to climate change [3] and its morphology which prevent them to forage up to greater depth and range make the situation even worse [2]. Alteration in sea ice condition, which ultimately affects availability of pray and breeding and moulting of these birds, significantly affects their population [2]

Impacts of climate change on Pig

by Yadav Sharma Bajagai


Swine are particularly susceptible to increased environmental temperature because evaporative cooling by sweating is of limited value to them due to barely functional sweat glands. Impacts of thermal stress on pig due to increased ambient temperature are described here briefly.  

For Impacts of Climate Change on Cattle, Click Here.