Revitalizing Nepal’s agriculture and food systems
4 mins read

Revitalizing Nepal’s agriculture and food systems

Nepal’s agricultural sector needs a shot or two in the arm in view of changing weather patterns amid a deepening climate crisis and forgotten yet effective traditional agricultural practices.

For the revitalization of this sector, every farmer needs to know what crops (traditional, modern, cash crops, etc.) can grow well in their land. It is the duty of every local government to make sure that farmers know this.

Who among these farmers want to opt for subsistence farming? Who wants to go for commercial farming and who prefers surplus farming?

Relevant authorities should take a call on this because the needs of these separate groups of farmers are quite different.

Subsistence farmers need nothing, surplus farmers need guaranteed markets at their doorsteps whereas commercial farmers need guaranteed connections of national markets and knowledge to preserve their productions in a variety of ways.

It is the duty of Palikas (rural municipalities) to lease the parcels of land to the poor people interested in farming or sell it to them by accepting payment in installments.

Farmers also need to bear in mind that our ancestors switched to new crops in keeping with changing climatic conditions, including the availability of water. They need to realize that food patterns have been changing over generations and time has perhaps come yet again to change our food habits in keeping with a changing climate.

In this regard, we can take a leaf from Vedic ancestors, who taught us to blend science and intellect and sustain it culturally. For example, they taught us how to tap into the cosmic energy to rejuvenate ourselves. Planting Tulasi, Pipal and Sami was their way of ensuring a steady supply of pure oxygen and antioxidants.

Let us learn about sustainable development goals (SDGs) from our religious texts and cultural practices, and unlearn from the past efforts of government as well as non-government organizations (GOs/NGOs), if we are to indeed give sustainable development a boost in our soil.

Commission-oriented practices of politicians and businesspersons, in particular, have led to soaring imports of substandard foodstuffs of inferior quality, making the Nepali farmers reluctant to cultivate crops. So, we must make it loud and clear to our neighbors that these food imports have made our people lazy, and increased health hazards.

Our import-oriented economy throws ample light on the country’s crop production scenario. Politicians least bothered about crop yields, a labor-intensive farming system, unethical business and trade practices, and consumption-oriented mindsets are responsible for inviting this situation.

To overcome this scenario, let us make a matrix of our food demands, our production, the gaps, crops that we must grow, and local governments that can grow these crops. This matrix will help move ahead with crop production plans.

Commitment requires continuity—in saying and doing—something, which can be done by developing all political parties’ consensual intent, programs, funding mechanisms and an accountable implementing agency, which will remain there regardless of who comes to power. But none of the rulers and potential rulers are heading in that direction, pointing to the absence of their commitment to the cause.

Summing up, the Nepalis possess a number of indigenous skills to fill up their stomachs.

Ignoring this heritage, we followed westernization in the name of modernization in the agricultural sector as well. So, let’s first learn to differentiate between the two and go for modernization of what we have. Second, our developmentalists adapted the deficiency thesis. Let’s follow an efficiency thesis to enable poor people for a self-sustaining economy. Third, let us encourage industrialists and businesspeople to establish organic industries. Fourth, we exhausted our land using chemical fertilizers and pesticides, alongside local and indigenous wisdom, and replaced indigenous crops. Let’s move ahead by learning lessons from these mistakes. Fifth, we became consumers and inhuman businesspeople to feed long grain rice and poisonous vegetables, poultry and pigs laced with chemicals. Let’s reflect on this moniya culture (money is supreme) and work for human and nature-friendly productions.