The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) will finance a seven-year project in Nepal called 'Kisanka Lagi Unnat Biu Bijan Programme' — Improved Seeds for Farmers Programme (ISFP) — from next year.
The $60 million-programme, which will start from January 2013, aims to increase the income of about 150,000 poor rural households by accelerating agricultural growth in six districts — Rolpa, Rukum, Salyan, Pyuthan, Gulmi and Arghakhanchi — in its first phase, according to IFAD that will replicate the positive outcomes to more districts in its second phase.
The programme is a joint venture between the government and IFAD, designed in response to the government's request for an agricultural and livestock project for the country to be implemented by the Ministry of Agriculture Development.
It is based on the strategy to improve formal seed and smallholder livestock by developing a partnership between farmer organisations and the private sector with a sustainable approach in line with the IFAD Country Strategic Opportunities Programme 2006-2012.
"Most importantly, like all the other projects and programmes initiated by IFAD, it also addresses gender equality and social inclusion strategy ensuring the participation of poor women, ethnic groups and low caste members in all stages of the programme," it added.
Nepal is still considered a Low-Income Food Deficit Country. Even though there has been significant improvements in Nepal’s poverty level — which decreased from 42 per cent in 1995-96 to 24.6 per cent in 2010-2012 — the rural-urban poverty ratio remains highly disproportional.
The country’s poverty level is still significantly higher in rural areas where a majority of the rural population rely on stagnant agriculture as their main source of livelihood. With a goal to enable the poor rural people improve their food security and cultivation, raise their incomes and strengthen their resilience, IFAD along with the government and other donor agencies has invested in the country for the past three decades.
IFAD started its first project in Nepal in 1978 and since then nine projects have been successfully completed and four are ongoing. The programme is IFAD’s 14th project in Nepal.
"What is significant about ISFP is that it aims to significantly improve the seed replacement rate in the programme districts thereby contributing to higher crop productivity in particular and ensuring the availability of substantial amount of ‘Truthfully Labeled’ open pollinated variety seeds in general," said IFAD’s country programme coordinator for Nepal Bashu Aryal.
The first component of the programme is dedicated to extension of the formal seed sector by introducing improved ‘Truthfully Labeled’ seed products to replace poor quality seeds for cereals and vegetables.
The programme's second component deals with the smallholder livestock commercialisation targeting improvements in goat breeding and expanding dairy production. The final component of the programme aims to develop sustainable private sector enterprises including institutional growth, improved access to and control over non-financial sectors like agro-vets and increased outreach of microfinance institutions.The programme also promises to bring better income and healthier lifestyle for the poor rural populace through agricultural growth whose contribution to the gross domestic product is more than one-third.