Smallholder farmers in Nepal: A brief review

Nepal is predominantly an agricultural country with a majority of the people engaged in traditional farming practices. Among them, many of them are smallholder farmers who rely on family labor to yield produce enough to feed the household only. Very often, it has been observed that large area of arable land is left barren beyond subsistence farming due to lack of motivations: labor shortage, low return on investment, lack of access to market, insufficient water supply, farming profession being viewed with disrespect among others. 
Ministry of Agricultural Development has the provision of Agricultural Development Strategy (ADS) 2015- 2035 in support of Government and various other international funding bodies with a vision to create “A self-reliant, sustainable, competitive, and inclusive agricultural sector that drives economic growth and contributes to improved livelihoods and food and nutrition security.” The strategic framework focused on outcomes related to governance, productivity, profitable commercialization, and competitiveness to accelerate the inclusive, sustainable, multi-sector, and connectivity-based growth (“Agricultural Development Strategy (ADS), 2014”).

In a research article, Roka (2017) presents us the provisions for smallholder farms in ADS and analyses the impacts on the agrarian structure concerning technical support and funds that influence the neoliberal economic policies. The integration of smallholder farmers into the agricultural system has been observed to be of key importance since it can employ many people living in poverty in absence of scope in other sectors. It was concluded that although ADS is keen on developing policies to transition these farmers to commercial farmers, the issues of agricultural production have not been sufficiently studied. The need for in-depth research for the success of the neoliberal policy holistically in land management structure has been highlighted in this article.

The issues of limited access to market for the produce, lack of irrigation water, low return on investment, poor yield, labor shortage, and risks associated with climatic factors were highlighted as the major reasons plaguing smallholder farming (GC and Hall, 2020). The inferences are drawn from the study the necessity to focus on several issues: need to strengthen agricultural policies and programs, addressing the constraints to commercialization, availability of financial support and insurance of crops, encouraging the participation of private sector, utilizing local labor to prevent outmigration, customizing programs according to farmer’s needs, among others.

There is potential to merge the smallholder farmers to contribute towards agricultural development in Nepal. However, the transition is still going to be challenging as the integration will require accommodation in the land management issue to customize policies by regions, improved access to markets, incorporation of technologies for better production, access to financing and insurance of crops, and business planning for commercialization of high-value crops. To accomplish the above tasks, there is a necessity to strengthen the farmer through mediation between the farmers and stakeholders of the agricultural department of the government for communication of the interests and needs of the smallholder farmer community.

Gc, R. K., & Hall, R. P. (2020). The commercialization of smallholder farming—a case study from the rural western middle hills of Nepal. Agriculture, 10(5), 143.
National Planning Commission. (2014). Agricultural Development Strategy, 2014. Ministry of Agricultural Development. 20Agriculture%20Development%20Strategy%20(ADS,the%20ADS%20will%20accelera te%20agricultural
Roka, H. (2017). The status of smallholder farmers in Nepal’s agricultural development strategy (2015–2035). Agrarian South: Journal of Political Economy, 6(3), 354-372.

CESAR March 1, 2023
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