KATHMANDU, Nepal (CIMMYT) — Nepal will benefit from a new project that will strengthen the country’s seed and fertilizer sectors, boost farmer income and increase the country’s food security through 2021.
More than 70 percent of Nepal’s population works in agriculture, yet a profound lack of resources, infrastructure and networks have weakened rural economies, increased urban and international migration and strained the ability of families to avoid malnutrition. Two out of every three Nepalese suffer from food insecurity at some time during the year and the prevalence of stunting is nearly 40 percent.
“With right seeds, resources and practices Nepalese farmers could produce 50 percent more food on their land, enough to not only eliminate domestic food insecurity but even become a food surplus country,” said Dyutiman Choudhary, coordinator and market development specialist for the five-year Nepal Seed and Fertilizer project (NSAF).
Research has shown the better application of fertilizer and planting improved hybrid seeds are the two most impactful steps Nepalese maize farmers can take to boost income and grain yields in their fields. Adopting just these two practices can increase grain yields 1.8 and 1.4 tons per hectare, respectively.
Launched on August 1, NSAF will build competitive and vibrant seed and fertilizer systems that significantly expand seed production, marketing and distribution by enhancing the capacity and role of public, private and community sectors in seed and fertilizer value chains. It is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and led by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) in collaboration with the Ministry of Agricultural Development (MOAD) and private sector.
During an event for the project’s launch in Kathmandu, Choudhary presented an overview of the project’s overarching strategy and key approaches being implemented to increase adoption of quality seed and integrated soil fertility management technologies for more than 100,000 smallholder farmers in 25 of Nepal’s 75 districts.
MOAD Secretary and Program Chair Suroj Pokharel and Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States Embassy in Nepal Michael C. Gonzales also acknowledged the contribution of robust agriculture projects that support the Government of Nepal’s Agriculture Development Strategy through the promotion of innovations in digital technology and market research development to improve farming practices. Other event invitees included government representatives, the U.S Embassy, USAID, partner organizations, local media, project beneficiaries and other private stakeholders.