Articles on Organic Agriculture

Organic Agriculture Development in Nepal

Nepal is a mountainous country with plenty of natural beauties and an Agriculture-based economy with about 75% of the population being dependent upon agriculture. About 70% of the Nepali people are in the rural areas of the country where the main occupation is agriculture. A significant part of the population is dependent upon this sector, which remains a backbone of the country’s economy, where as 36 percent GDP is covered by agriculture production. In this situation it cannot be taken for granted that the overall development of the country is possible without the development of this sector. The development of the farmers is not possible without the development of this sector, and the purchasing power of the farmers cannot improve until their conditions improve as well. In the absence of improvement in the purchasing power of the farmers, direct and indirect impact on the demand for industrial outputs, so the industrial development is also hindered. The fact that other various sectors will be affected directly or indirectly cannot be denied. For the above reasons, there is an urgent need for improvement in the agriculture sector. However, the following factors are responsible for the backwardness of this sector in the country: Traditional farming practice, fragmentation of agricultural land, lack of irrigation, lack of adequate technology & skill manpower, dual ownership in land, lack of timely provision of quality seed and fertilizers, absence of well organized agriculture market, lack of utilization of public and private land, less participation of private sector in Agro & Agro Forest sectors etc. are the main obstructions of agriculture development in Nepal.

The population is increasing day by day, but on other hand, the fertile land has been converted into cities or industrial areas. If this continues, there will be no remaining fertile land for growing crops. Kathmandu Valley can be taken as an example. This problem threatens the well being of human beings in every country of this world.

The disorganized agricultural activities are also a serious problem in Nepal. The vast area of land is misused. However, the major issue in this sector is lack of skilled and qualified manpower as well as the appropriate technology. The great effort of Nepalese farmers has become fruitless. Still, we can find the large area of land uncultivated and unutilized. In this regard, it is necessary to implement a planned policy immediately. In the absence of concrete vision and policy, the existing few agricultural entrepreneurs are also facing great problems. On the other hand, there are no such better situations created to exist as private entrepreneurs. The farmers have been doing hard labor, but they are compelled to live in a miserable condition. Every government in Nepal has been claiming that agricultural development is in top priority, but the results are not found satisfactory. The way we can pursue agricultural development in this country, is through the use of organic agriculture. In the world context now organic agriculture is an emerging situation, so this is the right time to begin thinking about organic agriculture development in the country. For a country bestowed by nature with tremendous organic agricultural probability, this must be the right choice. Presently, it is in its infancy stage due to the lack of awareness amongst farmers, consumers, students, scholars, activists and policy makers. Even the government of Nepal has not given any priority for Organic Agriculture (OA) development. What we are facing today owes to the total lack of planning and foresight in the country’s organic agriculture sector. Farmers have been applying chemical inputs in the name of commercial farming, which is hazardous to both human life and the environment. Soil fertility is degrading day by day, and people are suffering with critical diseases. If we do not become timely conscious and create awareness, the situation will be beyond our control, and become a great threat to the human existence in this country. Necessary steps must be taken immediately for preserving both the environment and its creatures by supporting (institutionalizing) organic farming. Our initiative actions in this regard can be recognition for the future generations.
To create public awareness about the importance of organic agriculture, to formulate concrete planning and policy for the betterment of farmers to reduce poverty through organic agriculture, and to establishing organic agriculture resource centers all over the country will be main steps of the Nepali Government as well as those institutions and organizations who have been involving in this sector in a joint effort. It is certain that organic farming will be more cost effective than modern farming in the long run. Employing organic farming methods will lead to higher profits for farmers, not only because of price premiums, but also because of lower production costs (Rosegrant, et al., 2005; von Braun, et al, 2003). OA technologies can decrease the costs of production as chemical inputs are substituted by locally available and cheaper organic inputs and more intensive labor which the farmers often have in abundance. Adoption of OA systems also lowers the need for credit, which is often expensive and difficult to obtain for small farmers. There is substantial evidence linking OA with improvements in the profitability and income of poor farmers in developing countries. Case studies by UNESCAP (2002) shows that certain organic farming groups were able to double their income due to the lower cost of organic inputs and lower credit costs. More importantly, studies show that OA has been particularly profitable for smallholders. In the context of Nepalese farmers, OA is the only technology to adopt for their livelihood as they have a small holding of land. So it is vital to think of organic agriculture development in the country by it’s government. Government is providing subsidy in chemical fertilizer, likewise the government should have to provide necessary support to those who have been involving in the field of organic agriculture development. It should also formulate a policy in regards to organic agricultural development within the country, so that Nepal can gradually become known as an organic country.

Ramesh Nath Sharma
Executive Chairman

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