Agricultural Performance and Food Security in Nepal: Constraints and Challenges
Agricultural Performance and Food
Security in Nepal:
Constraints and Challenges
Bishnu Dev Pant
Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS)
Mandikatar, Kathmandu, Nepal
14 November, 2011
Cover 35 %land area,
2% of this land
Hill: 800-2,400 masl,
Covers 43 % land area,
One-tenth of it is
Terai: 60-300 masl,
23 % land area,
Nearly half of it is
• Area: 14.7 million hectares (147,181 sq.km) 93rd in the world
• Water: 2.8%
• Population: 26.6 million 2011
Population growth rate; 1.4 (2011)
• Density: 199.3/km2, 62nd
• Population below poverty line: 25.16% (2011)
Labor force by occupation (2010)
• A redistribution effect among the sectors as economy grows
• Services today contributing over 50 percent to GDP
• Industry stagnating after 1990—lack of electricity main cause
First time in Nepal's history in 2010;
• Terai districts namely: Sunsari, Saptari,
Mahottari, Sarlahi, Rautahat, Siraha, Kailali
and Dhanusha were unable to produce
adequate food grains for themselves due to
Edible Food Availability and Requirement according to
Ecological and Development regions in 2009/10
Dev. Regions Total edible prod. (mt.) Requirement (mt) Balance (+,-)
E.Region 1,258,495 1,187,845 70,650
C.Region 1,385,888 1,862,166 -476275
W.Region 1,251,382 1,047,589 203,793
MW.Region 678,418 692,947 -14529
FW.Region 393,286 506,897 -113611
Mountain 279,765 376,982 -97217
Hill 2,040,441 2,451,345 -410904
Terai 2,647,263 2,469,117 178,149
Total 4,967,469 5,297,444 -329972
Source, Ministry of Agriculture, 2010
Food Distribution System
Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) is the main player
which supplies food grains in the food deficit
FiscalYear AlloctedCelling Quantityreceived Quantityavailable Quantitysold
2004/05 3,152 2,352 3,111 273
2005/06 3,192 2,371 2,756 2,332
2006/07 3,932 3,617 3,912 3,591
2007/08 3,480 5,372 5,693 4,523
2008/09 3,671 5,469 6,711 5,943
2009/10 9,056 8,573 9,447 7,488
2010/11 8,708 8,494 10,472 7,944
Agriculture perspective plan (1994/95-2014/15)
Main Objectives :
Poverty elevation & improve food security by accelerating agricultural growth
transforming the subsistence based agriculture into commercial
promote private sectors in the development of agriculture,
expanding opportunities for overall economic transformation
identify guidelines for preparing periodic plans and future program.
increase per capita growth of agricultural GDP by six fold from the level of 0.5 percent
to 3 percent per year
Sixth five year plan (1980-
Seventh five year plan
Eighth five year plan
Ninth five year plan (1997–
Tenth five year plan 2002-
National Agriculture Policy
Three Year Interim Plan
Three year Interim plan (
included as basic needs increase production at faster rate, and create
productive employment opportunities
allocated nearly 1/3rd of its total expenditure to agriculture and irrigation,
budget allocated could not be fully utilized
Objectives similar to sixth plan , 65% of total expenditure allocated
however country became a net importer in this period
adopted an open policy for foreign investment.
emphasized investments, increase production and productivity of
high value crops &protection and promotion of agricultural
biodiversity and environment
poverty reduction through agriculture development. protection and
promotion of high value crops and agricultural biodiversity and
designed to ensure food security and poverty alleviation by
transforming the subsistence based agriculture into a
commercialized and competitive system
The interim constitution 2006/7 recognized food sovereignty as the
fundamental human right which was reflected in this interim plan
as food security for all citizens
food and nutrition security and millennium development goals by
competitive commercialization and modernization. first time a
separate section on food security, Recently a steering committee
established to develop food security
GDP growth rate of Nepal in different Plan Period
Agriculture 4.7 4.1 3 3.3 2.7 3.36
Non-Agriculture 4 5.5 6.3 3.9 3.8 5.13
Constraints and Challenges
• Low productivity
• Inadequate infrastructures
• Commercialization of agriculture
• Effective Food Distribution System
• Climate change Impacts and Adaptations
• Improve research capacity and extension
• The agricultural inputs are the major role player in productivity.
• Dependency on monsoon , low use of fertilizer, lack of
production technology and agriculture extension services
• Only 28 percent of total cultivated land is irrigated in the country.
• Per capita use of chemical fertilizer is one of the lowest in South
• GoN withdrawn subsidies on fertilizer sale.
• This policy needs to be reviewed, since the Indian farmers are
still enjoying subsidies and it will be impossible for Nepali
farmers to compete with them because of the long open border.
• Rural agricultural infrastructure, especially road connectivity is
a key factor in raising agricultural production
• 45 out of 75 districts of the country fall in hilly and
• There are still 9 hilly and mountain districts which are yet to
be connected by roads.
• lack of physical access hampered the delivery of agricultural
inputs on a regular basis , creates difficulties on the supply of
food, thereby deepening poverty level.
• Hence, there is an urgent need to invest massively for
developing the network of rural infrastructure so that most of
the village development committees within a district will have
access to agricultural roads.
Commercialization of agriculture
• Currently, the economy is largely remittance driven.
• There is a challenge to get the remittance money invested in the productive sector
which could escalate the much needed economic growth of Nepal.
• In this context, agriculture commercialization is an important option in
development agendas, both economic and social.
• Even though share of (AGDP) has been declining over the years, it still contributes
to one-third of the GDP.
• As this sector not being able to grow as planned has hampered the picture of
broader economic growth of Nepal.
• Overall economic growth rate declined from 4.8 percent in the 1990s to 3.2
percent during 2001-2006.
• Agriculture has virtually stagnated -- agriculture sector growth rate was 2.7
percent per annum in the 90s and 2.8 percent during 2001 to 2006. Hence, this
stagnation in the agriculture sector has a huge part in impeding the economic
growth of Nepal and fight against poverty.
• Commercialization of Agriculture has been deemed necessary for a long time in
the growth planning of Nepal.
• It requires action along several factors that include policy support, capacity
building, investment in research, human resources and agricultural infrastructure,
market information for producers and associated stakeholders.
Effective Food Distribution System
• The Nepal Food Corporation (NFC) was established in 1974 with a number of
objectives mainly to accumulate food stocks for distribution to deficit
districts, maintain price stability of food products, and implement the
government’s food policies.
• It has been purchasing food grains from the market and selling them in
various districts since its establishment.
• NFC began accepting food grain from donors with 2003/04.
• The demand for food grains in the deficit hilly and mountain districts of the
country is significantly higher than what is distributed by NFC
• Hence, NFC assistance is insufficient to protect poor people in deficit areas
from rising food grain prices.
• NFC does not have adequate capacity to be effective in delivering effective
food distribution in the country.
• There is an urgent need to review the present activities of NFC and
significantly strengthen its capacity.
Climate change Impacts and Adaptations
• In recent years, significant changes have been observed in the
climatic conditions in Nepal.
• The monsoon rainfall has been increasingly erratic.
• Increased landslides in the hilly and mountain districts.
• The Terai districts increasingly experienced frequent and severe
flooding causing heavy crop losses.
• Such climatic changes are likely to have severe impact on
agricultural production and food security in the country.
• Finding cost effective, sustainable strategies for adapting to
climate change must remain a priority for the government policy
makers and researchers in the country.
Improve research capacity and extension services
• The Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC) is the principal agency
undertaking research in Nepal.
• NARC conducts research program either itself or in collaboration with other
regional and international institutions.
• However NARC’s ability to raise up to challenge of developing appropriate
high quality seeds, improved livestock breeds, and technologies appropriate to
agro-ecological conditions in Nepal have been questioned.
• A DFID funded Review of Research Impact, Responsiveness and Future
Priorities carried out in 2005 found that rice varieties developed by NARC did
not generate much impact in terms of yield gains while impressive progress
has been achieved in the case of vegetables (mainly off-season vegetables).
• Research impacts have not been seen to such an extent, however, with respect
to improved breeds of livestock (IFPRI/IIDS/USAID 2010).
• Nepal lagged far behind in both agricultural production and productivity
comparing to its neighboring country
• The country’s agricultural output has declined over the past several
• Vast majority of Nepalese youths migrating to foreign countries in
search of better jobs and livelihoods is creating laborers scarcity in
• The government has not created job opportunities within the nation but
rather relied on income generated by outsourced labor.
• Agriculture sector must be revamped for achieving a sustainable
economic development and poverty alleviation in the nation.
• Thus, we need to attract youths in agriculture sector. To do so, there is a
need to create greater awareness about the importance of agriculture.
• The immense potentialities associated with agriculture need to be well
imparted to the youths of Nepal.
• Furthermore, it must be well incorporated in education sector of Nepal.
• Most importantly, national-level policies aimed
toward boosting agricultural production and
productivity have not been effectively implemented.
• Several food aid programs, in conjunction with the
government, have been operating in Nepal for years.
• Despite such efforts, the government of Nepal has
been unable to solve the problem of food deficiency.
The government has time and again failed to
successfully implement various plans and policies,
primarily due to lack of political commitment and