Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Food for Thought: Making New Constituton of Nepal

"Incorporation of Important Agricultural Issues in the New Constitution of Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal: An Example of Buffalo Farming"
....................................By Lok Nath Paudel (Expert in Animal Breeding & Production System)
Agriculture is the mainstay of more than 2/3 population of Nepal. It contributes about 38% to the national gross domestic production (GDP). Livestock is the integral part of Nepalese agriculture which contributes about 1/3 to agricultural GDP. A 20-year (1995-2015) priority-focused agricultural prospective plan (APP) has been adopted by the government of Nepal as a forward looking strategy which envisage to increase livestock contribution to 45% by 2015. The plan aims to accelerate agricultural growth by about 5% and increase agricultural income from 0.5 to 3 percent over that period. It has identified livestock sector as one of the most potential sectors with expected average annual growth rate of 5.5% as a whole in livestock sector and 6.1% in dairy sector. APP has given first priority to milk and then to meat. Out of the total domesticated animals, buffalo enterprise alone contributes about 53% to the livestock sector producing about 70 and 65% of the national milk and meat production, respectively. So, buffalo farming has to get top priority in agricultural policy and programs of Nepal. However, productivity of local buffaloes is very low. Government has been trying to increase the number of improved buffaloes by different means since last four decades but the adoption rate is less than 12% till now.
Most of the buffalo keepers are small holders who keep only 1-3 buffaloes with them. Research has shown that majority of the farmers of Nepal still prefer local buffaloes (Lime, Parkota and Gaddi) over improved breeds (Murrah and its crosses) because of smaller body size, disease and parasite resistant capacity, efficient production even in a low profile of nutritional regime, and higher percentage of fat and total solid in their milk. There have been found some elite local buffaloes that may produce more than 2000 litres milk per lactation (average of Murrah breed is only 1800 litres). Farmers complain that the marginally better milk performance of Murrah breed is because of the good health care, feed and management which majority of them are lacking. So there could be two alternatives as far as the policy is concerned, for the improvement of the buffalo farming enterprise in Nepal:
1. Launch significantly enough programs related to feeding, health care and management as per the need of Murrah buffaloes which may not be feasible in short time.
2. Select the elite local buffaloes by performance testing and take them to breeding programs with the full participation of the farmers.
There is no doubt that the new constitution of new Nepal would be formulated for the betterment of its people. The betterment of the people is only possible if their real needs are sufficiently addressed. Since most of the farmers are small holders keeping buffaloes as their most favoured animals, policy should be focused on such enterprises. The members of the Constitutional Assembly should critically think upon such issues which could be surfacely thought as ‘minor issues’ but have significant impact in Nepal. Such ‘minor’ but important issues of agricultural sector are to be sufficiently addressed while formulating the new constitution of Nepal.
Improved livestock farming as per the needs and realities of the Nepalese farmers and subsequently supports from the government should be a part of upcoming constitution. Relevant laws and regulations are to be formulated based on these grounds. Everybody should have easy access to modern/improved technologies and facilities related to livestock farming in Nepal.
(You are welcome to comment, suggest and provide feed back on the issue)

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