Poor people in Nepal who make their living from agriculture are challenged by climate change, insufficient market access, and by the fact that a large percentage of the country’s young population moves abroad to find work. Many live in locations heavily exposed to the weather, with frequent and ever more violent floods. Those who live in the most exposed locations are the poorest and most marginalized groups, like the Dalits (belonging to the so-called low castes) and freed Kamayas (erstwhile agricultural slaves). These groups have taken over the lands no-one else wanted. They have small plots of land or work on other people’s fields, and lack up-to-date knowledge and the tools needed to exploit the soil in a good way and ensure variety in their agricultural production. Lack of access to sufficient and healthy food, and lack of knowledge of nutrition, general health and mothers’ health in particular, contribute to mal- and undernourishment. This has health consequences, particularly for small children who are still developing.
Education in agriculture, nutrition and animal husbandry
To strengthen food security and improve the nutritional situation for families in the countryside, the Development Fund therefore trains farmers in more sustainable agricultural techniques to increase production, introduces new plants that ensure more varied food production, and implements consciousness-raising and education about nutrition. We make use of methods that are adapted to local conditions, and test the methods with various plants on small fields along with the farmers, so they themselves participate in the process of discovering workable solutions and can see the results of the changes. An important step is to establish good irrigation systems, so farmers can irrigate their fields – also when it is not raining. To promote animal health we seek to improve husbandry and gain access to veterinary services, including vaccines. This makes for healthier animals and lower mortality. In high-mountain areas, we offer training and support for building greenhouses and plastic tunnels that expand the growing season. In the lowlands, our work includes leasing of agricultural land to secure food production and income for landless Dalits and Kamayas. We also seek to increase knowledge of nutrition, paying special attention to mothers and children.
Examples of results:
- 6,066 households in Nepal now have food for an average 1.8 months more per year than previously.
- In Nepal, the production of basic foodstuffs has increased by 75 percent in the mountainous regions of Humla and by 11 percent in lowland West Terai.
- Animal husbandry is an important strategy to increase food security. The number of animals per household participating in our projects in Nepal has increased by 130 percent.