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Sustainable agriculture and the environment: Nepal case study

by Portal Web Editor last modified Feb 12, 2013 09:07 PM
Contributors: Fred Sowers, James A. Litsinger, Richard English, Satish Prabasi, Ava Shrestha

This case study examines USAID program success in promoting conservation and sustainable agriculture in Nepal since the late 1970s. The review focuses on four USAID projects funded with US$ 90 million, the two largest being the Resource Conservation and Utilization Project (RCUP) and the Rapti Integrated Rural Development Project (Rapti). About 12 percent of the Rapti Phase I budget went to the renewable Resource Management Component, which promoted community management of existing forests. USAID also co-financed international NGOs targeting the poorest farmers for agricultural development and resource conservation.From 1964 to 1978, Nepal's hill forest cover was reduced by 25%, resulting in 1) less or more distant sources of forest products, and 2) reduced soil fertility and crop yields. The authors note that a lack of strategies to involve local communities in management and conservation of the forests is one of the main reasons for past lack of interest by communities in halting deforestation and for the failure of RCUP and similar projects.During the 1980s, a shift in national policies allowed local people to form user-groups, which took charge of natural forests and afforestation. USAID moved from a traditional top-down technical service delivery to a more grass roots approach, where farmers participated in planning and implementing natural resource conservation. As a result, land productivity was increased and more practices for the conservation of soil and watersheds were adopted. The authors argue that cropland conservation initiatives implemented through local organizations are more efficient and sustainable than centralized approaches. Agricultural development programs were more successful in the communities having previous experience organizing themselves in forestry user-groups. The authors suggest that donor agencies should be prepared to devote at least ten years to a project. The NGO model of support for natural resource use is better than other approaches because efforts are targeted and are long-term.

Author(s): Fred Sowers , James A. Litsinger , Richard English , Satish Prabasi , Ava Shrestha

Publication Date: 1994

Location: Nepal

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