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Support Sustainable Agriculture to Ensure a Food Secure Post-Earthquake Nepal: Advice to Key Stakeholders

Posted on: 6/27/2015

Food Security is a Priority

  • The earthquake of 25 April 2015 and the subsequent aftershocks have killed and injured around 9,000 and 20,000 people respectively and destroyed over 500,000 and damaged over 275,000 houses. The majority of the affected families are rural smallholder farmers, with low capacity to respond and recover from shocks. In the immediate aftermath, shelter, food and medical assistance were the crucial needs. Now, food security is the most pressing need in the coming months and years.
  • The UN OCHA flash appeal has identified food security as the most important funding cluster with an appeal of nearly USD 100 million. However, only 20% of the requested funding has been met making it the third least funded of the 12 clusters by proportion.

Sustainable Agriculture, especially Family Farming, is the key to Food Security

  • The earthquake has led to losses of seed for summer and winter crops, limiting the farmers’ ability to produce their own food. Food aid may paper over the cracks in the short term, but the food aid response to the earthquake is already mired in controversy. Even when done well it can undermine local farming systems and distort markets. Missing the summer planting season will mean an additional year of potentially dependency creating food aid.
  • Hence, agriculture, especially family farming, remains a key sector for ensuring food security, recreating self-belief and giving the victims a sense of dignity. Agriculture can lay the foundations for the post-earthquake recovery as 70% of the population depend on it directly or indirectly for their livelihoods.

We need to strengthen Local Seed Systems

  • The FAO estimates that USD 8 million is urgently needed to help affected farmers recover lost agricultural inputs, mainly seeds, to grow food in the coming agricultural season. Due to the micro-climatic variation in the earthquake affected districts, farmers will need access to quality seeds for a diversity of locally adapted crops and varieties.
  • Seed rescue missions, seed fairs, seed multiplication and exchange events with repatriation of lost local crop seeds in the earthquake affected areas will be crucial to recover, restore and provide access to important and locally adapted genetic resources. Strengthening ex situ conservation of genetic resources in national gene bank, NARC and establishment of field gene banks in NARC agricultural research centres linking with community seeds banks will be essential to support local seed system. Local institutions and farmers’ organizations such as community seed banks will be key allies for strong local seed systems. Community seed banks in Tanahun and Nawalparasi quickly provided quality rice seeds upon the request of DADOs from earthquake affected districts.

Consider Civil Society and Non-Governmental Organizations are Key Partners

  • Strong grassroot CSOs, cooperatives, mothers’ groups, farmers’ organizations, and community seed banks are key allies as well as future custodians of managing and maintaining strong local seed systems. They need to be supported.
  • National and local NGOs have boots on the ground and play crucial roles in terms of social mobilization, capacity building, facilitation and coordination with line agencies, stakeholders and donors. They are key allies on our path to a sustainable and food-secure post-earthquake Nepal.

- National Agriculture Genetic Resources Centre, NARC
- Bioversity International, Nepal
- The Norwegian Development Fund
- USC Canada
- Local Inititatives for Biodiversity, Research and Development

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