The Government of Switzerland and the Government of Nepal have agreed to stimulate job creation and increase the income of farmers through an effective transformation of the agricultural markets in Nepal.
According to the agreement signed on November 29 between the two governments, Switzerland will contribute US$10.7 million for the Nepal Agricultural Market Development Program (NAMDP) Phase II, a four-year program to be implemented in Province Number 1 in Nepal from December 2020 to November 2024.
As a continuation of the first phase of the same program which ended on 30 November, NAMDP Phase II will be executed by the Ministry of Land Reform, Agriculture and Cooperatives of Province Number 1 in Nepal under a conditional grant. Shree Krishna Nepal, Joint Secretary at the Ministry of Finance of Nepal, and Elisabeth von Capeller, Ambassador, Embassy of Switzerland in Nepal, on behalf of their respective governments, signed and exchanged the agreement to implement NAMDP Phase II.
Stating that the project will strengthen the capacity of smallholder farmers to deliver innovative products and services, the Joint Secretary thanked the Swiss Government for their continuing support in the difficult times brought about by the pandemic and vowed to implement the project effectively. Similarly, Ambassador Capeller expressed the willingness of the Swiss Government to extend support to this priority sector of the Government of Nepal.
The project aims to strengthen the provision of support services to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the agricultural sector to improve the quality of their products and to increase the value of trade in selected value chains.
Additionally, the project is expected to create 1,000 new jobs benefitting 20,000 farmers through increased farm-income. Phase 1 of the project aimed to increase the annual nominal income of 25,000 farming households by December 2020.
- According to the Department of Livestock Services (DLS, 2017), goat meat is the second largest meat sector in the country accounting for a fifth of the total meat production with 51% of farming households in Nepal rearing goats.
- Vegetable farming is very common in rural parts of Nepal where farmers grow vegetables mainly for survival. As per the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS, 2013), approximately 52% of total farming households in Nepal grow vegetables.
- Vegetables are also considered to be more profitable compared to cereal crops.
- A substantial amount of agricultural production in Nepal is said to be lost due to the lack of proper post-harvest management.
- Farmers also need a diversified forward market in order to reduce the risks of overproduction and price fluctuations.
- The Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD, 2014) states that nearly 35% of agricultural production is lost due to inappropriate crop protection solutions and practices.
Aiming to facilitate the increased engagement of smallholder farmers in commercial agriculture, the project focuses on women-led production units and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. Likewise, by making markets more accessible to smallholders, it is expected that they will improve their competitiveness and thus their income from farming.
It is significant that Nepal’s 20-year Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS, 2015-2035) aims to facilitate profitable commercialization and increased competitiveness to transform the agricultural sector. It recognizes the critical importance of access to and control of the means of production by farmers. The ADS activities aim to have an impact on three groups of farmers, commercial, subsistence and landless.