May 112016
 

Medical and aromatic plants (MAPs), collected in the wild for centuries, are now fetching small Hill and Mountain farmers unprecedented income - a recipe for motivating young men to stay at home, says TMI.

In Nepal’s hill and mountain communities, food insecurity and lack of income sources continue to drive thousands of young men abroad as migrant workers in low-paid and often dangerous jobs. Women and children are left behind in villages where vast areas of agricultural land are left fallow as nobody is home to farm it. Out-migration is transforming many hill and mountain villages into communities in gradual disintegration! But in recent years, TMI – the Mountain Institute – has succeeded in slowing down this process in some districts. Their recipe? Training farmers in production of medical and aromatic plants (MAPs). Collected in the wild for centuries, these plants are now cultivated on a commercial basis and exported to India, China and beyond, fetching household farms annual incomes of USD 5,000+, thanks to a TMI programme started in 2002. This video – produced by LocalNepalToday – tells the story and how it can grow.

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Jul 302015
 
Urbanisation stands out at night: Kathmandu Valley make up almost 25 pct. of the national economy

Urbanisation stands out at night: Kathmandu Valley make up almost 25 pct. of the national economy

Nepal’s economy is becoming steadily more urbanised, according to the government’s Economic Survey for 2014-15. Indeed, cities and towns make up 33.1 pct. of the national economy – Kathmandu Valley a staggering 23.4 pct. alone – and VDCs adjacent to the urban areas account for an additional 30 pct. of the economy. In other words, almost two-thirds of GDP is generated in and around the capital and local towns! This development is linked with demographics too. The urban population is growing while 77 pct. of the immigrants to city and district towns come from the rural areas! Continue reading »

Mar 022015
 

Timsina's warning: locals will lose seed security

Timsina’s warning: locals will lose seed security

Fifteen years ago, a young Nepalese student of agriculture – N. P. Timsina – went to districts in the Mountains, Hills and Terai to study seed security. His motivation? Well, seed security, Timsina wrote back then, is where all food security begins! For centuries, local farmers in the districts that Timsina visited maintained their own seed supply. Cucumber, beans, cawliflower, as well as rice, maize and all other crops were cultivated, not with seeds bought on the market but with local, home-grown seeds. That meant a high degree of seed self-sufficiency. But in the late 1990s this whole system was changing. Continue reading »

Feb 102015
 

USAID – a major donor in agriculture in Nepal – operates a programme on a wholly different level than the limited organic sector. 25 percent of the vegetables on the urban market in Nepal are imported from abroad, mainly from India, and to achieve greater self-sufficiency, USAID advocates, it is crucial to improve the “value chain”. Under the NEAT programme, USAID is distributing “improved seeds” to thousands of farmers; setting up collection centres to help with transportation; and improving the marketing and retail link. The video opposite sums it all up.

“Farmers [now] see a new future in commercial vegetable production, and now traders are purchasing quality vegetables from Nepali farmers.” Narrator on the success of the programme.

Feb 102015
 

It is estimated that nearly 1600 tons of hybrid seeds are imported to Nepal every year. That’s a sizeable dependency on foreign seed suppliers! So, USAID – in its support for the use of hybrid seeds in the country – has started to promote local hybrid seed production. Watch the video opposite to learn the details: USAID’s Nepal Economic Agriculture and Trade (NEAT) Activity supports SEAN Seed Service Centre (SSSC) who not only initiates local farmers into growing hybrid seeds but also collects the seeds, upgrade and package them. The hybrid seeds are then sold to seed vendors who sell on to farmers…

“Improved technologies, such as hybrid seeds, are crucial to improving productivity in [agriculture] in Nepal.” Narrator’s comment in the USAID video above.

Aug 162014
 
Productive farm land is sprayed with chemicals

Productive farm land is sprayed with chemicals

Once upon a time, all farming in Nepal was purely organic. But over the last one or two decades, a significant commercialization in the more productive farm areas has taken place. Population and income levels in Kathmandu and major towns have been rising; the number of consumers who are buying not least vegetables has increased; and to exploit this demand, farmers around the capital, such as in Panchkhal out in Kavre, and in several Terai districts, have shifted from traditional agriculture to commercial, chemical-based farming. Continue reading »

Aug 102014
 

Going organic: scene from Holy Green Organic Farm

Going organic: scene from Holy Green Organic Farm

The growing use of pesticides in Nepal is increasingly provoking a counter reaction. Time and again, toxic levels of pesticides show up in vegetables on the markets in Kathmandu and major district towns. As a result, consumers are growing steadily more worried and conscious of what they eat, and more farmers are also becoming sceptical of commercial, chemical-based farming. So, what’s their counter-reaction? Well, still more have started to talk about “going organic”.

We just received a call from a farmer down in Tanahun, Mahendra Shrestha, who is not only talking about it. He and his wife have now taken action. They are running a small organic farm – the Holy Green Organic Farm – and other farmers in their village are also attracted to the idea. Yes, great profits can be made from chemical-based farming in short time, Mahendra agrees. But in the long term, organic farming is better. Watch the episode of “Local Voices” below to hear him explain why that is: it’s a small farmer’s views on a heated issue in Nepal today.

Jun 122014
 
Hybrid or local seeds? Farmer transplanting rice

Hybrid or local seeds? Farmer transplanting rice

What’s best for Nepal’s farmers: hybrid seeds – by and large imported from abroad – or original, local varieties? Well, opinions differ. But voices critical of hybrid seeds are growing. Hybrid corn, rice and other crops have been grown in Nepal for over a decade – and USAID is promoting hybrid seeds as the best way ahead. However, steadily more farmers are now raising concerns.
Continue reading »

May 212014
 
What's no longer reliable: rain for transplanting rice

What’s no longer reliable: rain for transplanting rice

The heat is undeniable these days. Some say it’s part of “global warming“, others suspect smog pollutants to be the cause, still others point to a regional cycle of climate change. But in either case, the weather over Nepal is warming up, and what’s worse for farmers: it’s also getting a lot drier. The annual monsoon is failing. In some areas the amounts of rain is a mere shadow of the past, in others it falls like a torrent, submerging paddies and washing away crops. Farmers across the country are in urgent need of irrigation or flood protection as the monsoon is delayed, erratic and insufficient.  Continue reading »

Apr 092014
 

Remittances are more and more important to Nepal's economy

Remittances are more and more important to Nepal’s economy

In few countries are remittances – money sent home by migrant workers – more important to people’s economy than in Nepal. Indeed, there is no competing with Tajikistan: here remittances constitute 48 percent of GDP, and in the Kyrgyz Republic the figure is 31 percent. But in a third position comes Nepal where remittances make up 25 percent of GDP! In short, one out of every four rupees spent in Nepal has been earned by migrant workers. Continue reading »

Dec 032013
 
The active ingredient in Aver Top is Chlorpyrifos

The active ingredient in Aver Top is Chlorpyrifos

“Aver Top – what’s in it?” We were back at the pesticide shop in Panchkhal. The owner was passing a bottle of insecticide over the counter – one we hadn’t seen before – and a local farmer was making the purchase. He was unable to read the label but the shop owner could explain: “The active ingredient is this one.” He pointed at the text on the bottle: “It’s called Chlorpyrifos.” We chewed on the name a couple of times. It sounded quite toxic and sure enough: the insert listed a range of bugs that it kills at contact. But what is Chlorpyrifos more exactly and is it safe? Continue reading »

Nov 052013
 
Active ingredient: Imidacloprid.

Active ingredient: Imidacloprid.

“What’s the small bags over there?” We were checking out the shelves at a pesticide shop in Panchkhal. There were hundreds of bottles lined up along the walls behind the counter. In front of one of the attractive looking rows of small containers were some innocent looking bags with the label: “Looper”. A farmer had just bought one of them in the same casual way as when you go and buy a packet of cigarets. “Well, that one”, the shop-owner explained. “It’s a very effective one, so we sell quite a lot of them too. The active ingredient is called Continue reading »

Sep 202013
 
Active ingredient: Dichlorvos

Active ingredient: Dichlorvos

“What are you spraying?” We just had a chat with Thulimaya Tamang about farming and now she was getting her pesticide kit ready. Time to dust the vegetables, she explained, or pest might get the better of them. She showed us the pesticide bottle: “Badal 76” it read. We had seen it many times in that area already – Panchkhal just east of Kathmandu – and in other parts of the country too. In fact, under different names, it’s been one of the most sprayed in the world. The active ingredient in Badal is a real killer. Meet: Dichlorvos! Continue reading »