National Workshop on Ecological and Organic Agriculture in Nepal
Nepal’s agricultural landscape is characterized largely by rain-fed farming, with a diversity of crops on-farm, crop-livestock-forestry linkages and low use of external inputs. However, in the accessible areas, commercial agriculture with the increased use of external production inputs, including the use of agrochemicals and high yielding modern crop varieties driven by market forces, is impacting on soil fertility maintenance, human health, and supply of environmental or ecosystem services - critical for sustaining Nepal’s agricultural system. At the same time, global warming is exerting increased pressure on farming, with unpredictable weather patterns, increased incidence of diseases and pests and reduced availability of water. Recently, there is growing realization to adopt the farming system and approaches that can help produce safe and healthy foods and to meet current and future demands by optimal use of locally available production inputs and resources. Ecological and organic agriculture has a unique advantage to provide such multiple benefits and is gaining momentum both nationally and globally.
Ecological agriculture utilizes approaches that blend context-specific ecological knowledge and indigenous practices with science adhering to the principles of environmental preservation, social fairness, and economic stability. Ecological and organic agriculture can reduce pesticide pollution, supply safe and healthy foods, protect the environment, conserve biodiversity and utilize locally available production resources on a sustainable manner. The demand for ecological and organic food is gradually growing both in national and global markets, as there is a growing awareness among the consumers about safe and healthy food, and the need to conserve the environment. In a country like Nepal where there is large diversity in climate, agricultural systems, socio-cultural setting, and food culture, promoting ecological farming has tremendous scope, with a huge competitive edge. Most parts in remote hills and mountain areas in Nepal are already under de-facto ecological and organic production practices that can be supported and scaled up to increase productivity and profitability by improving infrastructure, value addition and establishing market linkages. The agro-ecological diversity of the country presents a unique opportunity to design and implement ecological and organic farming, as the flagship agriculture programme across the country.