Agriculture in the context of Nepal

Nepal is an agricultural country. But hardly 20 % of the total land is under cultivation and farming must provide food for the whole population. The population is increasing by nearly 2% every year (that’s nearly 500000 people) but the land which can be cultivated remains the same, even occupied growingly by settlement and industries. It is therefore important that farmers must be enabled to grow more on their land.

Agriculture is a very important economic activity in Nepal. It is a un-alternative occupation for the mass of unskilled people. Still today it is considered the backbone of Nepalese economy. Nepal’s varied climate and soil type can be suitable for growing diverse crop types and animal species. Grasslands and meadows of the hills and mountains can be utilized to rear animals which in turn give manure for growing better crops. Agriculture supports nearly 40 % of the national economy. It provides raw materials for many industries. Our agricultural products are also important export items.

Problems

We have not been able to improve our agriculture a lot. It is still traditional and labor-intensive. Subsistence nature and low productivity are its major characteristics. The agriculture sector has been given due priority by all economic plans; still expected outcome has not been felt. The following factors are responsible for our agricultural backwardness.

Traditional farming

Nepalese agriculture uses traditional means of farming. Agricultural tools are not advanced. Seeds are not improved. Due to traditional farming, work is difficult and production is low. Farmers are not skilled in the methods of modern agriculture. They are not healthy enough to realize the potential of their farms. Crops and grains are destroyed by pests, insects, and weeds. Animals also cannot give good yield when they suffer from diseases.

 Lack of proper irrigation system

We have not been able to utilize our vast water resources to irrigate the cultivable land. Hardly about 20%of the total land under cultivation has good irrigation facilities. So farmers have to depend highly on monsoon rain which is not timely and reliable. In winter much of the farmland remains unused due to the lack of irrigational facilities. When monsoon fails, crops fail to cause misery and starvation to the farmers. Sometimes cultivation is not possible. During each monsoon landslides and floods triggered by excessive rain damage much of the cropland.

Lack of transport and market

Due to lack of market, our agro-based products rot in the places where they are grown. Food grains grown in the Terai cannot be transported to other areas easily nor can fruits such as apples grown in the north get the easy market in the south. Industries are distant. Due to the lack of storage facilities, agricultural products suffer low price when they get good in the market at once. This only discourages farmers from producing in better amounts. It is also difficult to carry agro-tools, chemical fertilizers, medicines, improved seeds due to lack of transport.

Unscientific and undemocratic distribution of land

Land distribution is not scientific and democratic. Those who are actual tillers don’t owe land at all while those who don’t even tread on field hoard huge areas of land and leave it uncultivated. Fertile valley and plains are being growingly occupied by settlements and industries. It is difficult to cultivate such parcels. All this results in low production.

Overpressure of manpower

Less than 20% of the total area of Nepal is under cultivation. But over 60% of the population overburdens the land. With rapid population growth, the number of farmers cultivating the same field is increasing. When the share of land for a farmer gets very low, per capita production decreases. There is also widespread seasonal unemployment among farmers.

Poor economic condition

Nepalese farmers are subsistence farmers. They are compelled to take the loan even to run their family. They are born in debt and die in debt. Interest rates are high. Much of their production goes on paying interests. In such conditions, they cannot afford for applying new technology and machinery to improve their farming.

Lack of research activities

A certain soil type and climate type is suitable for one or a few crops. There are diverse climate and soil types in Nepal. But there have not been enough researchers and experiments to find the best crops and best climate and soil type. Government plans and endeavors are quite insufficient in this regard.