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Reshaping Youth in Nepalese Agriculture

Agriculture is important to the development of any nation, Nepal being no exception, based on small family farms that are mainly subsistence oriented and yet not capable of feeding the people and facilitating economic development of the country. Although, an agricultural product primarily comprises food grain with paddy being the most pervasively cultivated crop however, the food self sufficiency for farming community and the poor people in the nation is not ensured. The agricultural sector performance records show virtual stagnation of agricultural productivity, with average annual growth rate of only 2.7 to 2.8 percent occurring during past two decades.

With a population close to 30 million, 31 percent of whom are below the poverty line, Nepal is the poorest country in South Asia. Young people make up 39 percent of the population, defined in Nepal’s National Youth Policy as those aged 16-40, half of them being young women and girls. The poor participation of young people in farming and the agricultural economy must be seen as a matter of grave concern to all; indeed it directly threatens the future of agriculture and rural economic transformation. Amid unstable political situation and shrinking employment opportunities in the country, a total of 384,000 Nepali youths left the country in search of work in the fiscal year 2011/12. These trends also affect global food production raising question who will then feed the global population that is projected to reach 9.2 billion people by 2050?

Youth are the key part of their country's national, social economical and political life. Youth in development work is to empower young people to play an assertive and constructive role. Several result show that youths play important roles in the supply of labor, donation of materials, initiating of projects, attend meetings punctually and use initiatives to gain outside help. Also, participation of youths in community based non-formal rural youth agricultural programmes is mainly in youth organizations which includes, age grades, local social clubs and young farmers organization. There are lots of successful story of youth in agriculture even as a role model. A group of Nepali youths, “Heartbeat”, are moving towards organic farming; led by Juju Kaji Maharjan said “Our main aim is to attract young Nepali youths towards farming those who are suffering from brain-drain and continually moving to other countries for so called high opportunities”. 

Nepal had initiated three year youth policy development processes National Youth Policy in 2008, presented challenges for implementation, given the lack of clear and concrete objectives, activities and budgets. Vice-Chairman Punya Prasad Regmi believes that Youth Self-Employment Programme will not get success until the stable government approves its regulatory framework, its being as matter of censure only. However it is fact that, few of youths are getting benefit from this programme. Arjun Bhattarai, National Coordinator of NEDI said, “investment of government and share of donor agencies in agriculture is very low, on other hand this sector has also less priority in media. The new generation does not want to become farmers even if their family profession is farming from generations.” Furthermore, the government of Nepal and UN Agencies are actively engaged to achieve the targets of Millennium Development Goals. Successful achievement of MDG, to ‘reduce extreme poverty and hunger’ would be impossible without significant investment in agriculture sector.

The increased participation by youth in agriculture in the region is necessary and vital to facilitate food and nutrition security. Focusing on the youth therefore, in programs that stimulate sustainable agricultural development, could improve social capital, reduce risk, and stimulate economic growth.  It was recommended that a robust relationship between agencies interested in encouraging youth involvement in agriculture should be evolved through legislation and implementation to youths at the identified rural youth organizations. Furthermore, Government support and promotion of rural infrastructure and equal access to and use of ICTs among women and men is critical. This will enhance youth involvement and catalyze agricultural development. 


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Saturday, 13 April 2024

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