Thursday, August 16, 2018

National Planning Commission and IRRI-Nepal hold round table meeting to discuss five-year work plan on the country’s rice agri-food system

For more than 50 years, IRRI has been working with Nepal in providing improved germplasm to develop nearly 70% of 83 high-yielding varieties in the country. This partnership has contributed to national food security and economic growth. National rice productivity of Nepal before collaborating with IRRI was 2 t/ha, and has risen to over 3.5 t/ha in 2017.

According to Dr. Dil Bahadur Gurung, member of the National Planning Commission responsible for Agriculture portfolio, “IRRI’s presence in Nepal provided a continuous supply of germplasm that supported the development of high-performing rice varieties, which are suitable for subtropical and warm temperate regions in Nepal”. Dr. Gurung adds that IRRI helped the country develop different rice farming technologies and in conduct capacity building initiatives for Nepalese scientists and extension workers.

This year, IRRI and Nepal, through the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD), opened new areas of partnership through a Five-year Collaborative Work Plan that provides a framework to attain rice self-sufficiency and achieve a number of Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr. Yubak GC, Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) assured that the Five Year Work Plan is fully owned by the Ministry. He urged the members of NPC to support the implementation of projects in the work plan and emphasized the need for mechanization, value addition in rice, quality seed and suitable variety, and promotion of improved local high yielding variety are key to attract young generation to agriculture.

Dr. Krishna Dev Joshi, IRRI Country Representative for Nepal, shared the key features of the Five Year Work Plan and presented an innovative project framework for Provinces 2, 6, and 7 with potential for high impacts. The work plan identified a number of outcomes: enhanced food security, income and livelihoods of farmers using best management practices and technologies; improved climate resilience of marginal and climate stress rice-based agriculture systems through crop diversification and intensification; improved food and nutrition security and gender equality in highland areas by harnessing Himalayan foods and agro-ecotourism potential; enabling functional local food systems intended for local consumption by linking women farmers to markets and government feeding programs; and capacity building.

Before concluding the session, Dr. Krishna Oli emphasized the need for the Government of Nepal to support IRRI's presence in the country in order for them to have better access to new rice technologies. He also suggested to prepare a detailed project proposal clearly explaining the level of benefits to the farmers that can accrue from a proposed amount of investment. All the NPC members and other participants highlighted the need for strengthening local production and local consumption by prioritizing the conservation and utilization of indigenous genetic resources of rice and other crops.

The meeting was held in 1 August 2018 at Kathmandu, Nepal. It was chaired by Dr. Krishna Oli, officiating Vice Chairperson of the Commission, and was attended by other four NPC members representing various development sectors in the country. Other attendees were Dr. Suchit Shrestha, Dr. Bhaba P. Tripathi, and IRRI-Nepal personnels.

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