Nepal Makes Progress Towards a National Agroforestry Policy
The World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) is assisting with the development of a national agroforestry policy for Nepal along with the Climate Technology Centre and Network.
In November 2017, an inter-ministerial coordination committee, of which ICRAF is a facilitating member, organized a series of consultations on how the policy could tackle barriers restricting widespread adoption of agroforestry.
The ministries of Agricultural Development, Forest and Soil Conservation, Population and Environment, and Livestock Development are all represented on the committee, along with ICRAF which is providing overall technical support. Participants in the consultations came from Government ministries and departments, research institutes and universities, farmers’ associations and cooperatives, national and international non-governmental organizations and service providers.
According to Dr Yubak Dhoj GC, Secretary, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation, the national agroforestry policy is expected to eliminate the barriers faced by farmers in harvesting, transporting and selling their agroforestry products: ‘An integrated and converged approach is required by the relevant ministries to achieve this much-required and long-pending goal’, he said during a consultation.
Dr Javed Rizvi, ICRAF’s regional coordinator for South Asia, agreed, pointing out that, ‘According to an analysis by CGIAR, agroforestry is recognized by about 66 countries as a tool either for adaptation or mitigation of climate change. It is a proven intervention to improve food, nutritional and environmental security. Nepal will benefit highly once the policy is approved and implemented’.
Rizvi explained his experience of working with the Government of India on the development of their policy, the first of its kind in the world, and how its realization has enhanced the economy, human health and the environment in a very short period of time. Drawing on this experience, Nepal’s policy will aim to create the enabling conditions to comprehensively implement agroforestry as part of its climate-change adaption and mitigation efforts. The development process will also serve to strengthen the capacity of policy makers, researchers, extension workers, first and end users to implement and sustain the policy.
‘We are confident that the national agroforestry policy will address the serious issue of the abandonment of agricultural land due to migration of youth in search of employment abroad. It will also address the high inputs’ requirement and labour-intensive nature of traditional agriculture currently practised’, said Dr Suroj Pokhrel, Secretary, Ministry of Agricultural Development.
Specifically, Nepal’s policy is planned to 1) promote resilient farming systems to minimize risk during extreme weather and incidences of pests and diseases; 2) expand tree plantations to integrate and complement crop and livestock production and support efforts to maintain and increase forest and tree cover to ensure ecological stability; 3) ensure availability of products—such as fuel wood, fodder, timber, fruit, nuts, medicines—to reduce pressure on natural forests; 4) build links between agroforestry farmers and markets, industries, banks and insurance providers; and 5) facilitate investment and funding for agroforestry through the Government, international agencies and the local and regional private sector.
‘Agroforestry will be key to improving the livelihoods of smallholders in Nepal and in enhancing their resilience to climate change’, noted Dr Bishwa Nath Oli, Secretary, Ministry of Population and Environment. ‘The country is facing the challenge of emigration of youth, leaving behind the elderly, women and children in villages. Thus, absence of a workforce in rural communities leads to under-utilization of agricultural land resulting in reduced family income. Agroforestry can offer sustainable solutions to such a problem’.
The policy-development process is an outcome of a national consultation organised jointly by the Government of Nepal and ICRAF involving other groups that had resulted in the 2015 Kathmandu Declaration on Agroforestry and the formation of the inter-ministerial coordination committee to oversee progress. Development of the policy is in line with Nepal’s Nationally Determined Contributions (2016) and Climate Change Policy (2011).