KATHMANDU, Feb 17: Engagement of private sector in promoting climate smart agriculture can be beneficial for both farmers and private sector if the results of a pilot program for climate resilient agriculture are something to go by.
As Nepal remains extremely vulnerable to climate change that can also make adverse impact on agriculture, experts say that the private sector can become a partner in helping farmers to pursue climate smart agriculture practices that could provide win-win results for both.
Speaking at a symposium organized by International Finance Corporation (IFC) on Friday at the sidelines of ‘2nd Nepal Agritech International Expo 2018’ in Kathmandu, they said that the partnership between farmers and private sector in climate smart agriculture helps in increasing the productivity of farmers and contribute to food security.
Their observations were based on the experiences and results of a pilot program that promotes climate resilient agriculture in Nepal. The project financed by the IFC, the World Bank Group’s financing arm, aims to develop and demonstrate climate adaptive methods, practices and technologies in selected locations for three crops -- rice, sugarcane and maize -- with the involvement of private sector for the adoption of adaptive practices and long-term improvements in resilience and productivity of farmers.
“At a time when the country is facing shortage of agriculturists, the private sector involved in agricultural business can step in to teach farmers on growing quality crops by overcoming the adverse effects of climate change,” said Milan Kumar Joshi, the project manager of Practical Action, an implementing organization for Climate Resilient Agriculture Project.
“If private sector that relies on farmers as their raw materials for the processing and production of finished goods train them on climate smart agriculture, they can ensure the required supply of products and their quality,” he said, explaining the commercial business case for the private sector.
If farmers fail to cope with the effects of climate change, the impact could be in the whole supply chain, according to experts.
“Less supply of raw materials due to the impact of climate change means increased competition and increased price,” said Joshi. “This means agribusiness has to operate below their capacity and below optimal operation means loss to businesses,” he added.
Agribusiness firms involved in the pilot project agreed to his point. They have said that their efforts to help farmers for the climate change adaptation have started to pay off.
Nischit Aryal, development officer at Nimbus -- an agribusiness firm that is a partner in the project -- said that the share of maize to total raw materials that the industry uses has been increasing due to its support in helping farmers in climate adaptation and resilience.
“Earlier, only 20 percent of maize used to be from the local farmers while we used to import remaining 80 percent for the production of cattle and poultry feeds. Now, the share of the domestic maize has increased to 30 percent and we want to raise it further,” he added.
Through this project, Nimbus helps farmers in the production of maize and soya while Nutri Food Pvt Ltd of Sharda Group is helping farmers in the production of rice. Eastern Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd of Golchha Group has been involved in supporting sugarcane farmers.
According to Joshi, these three crops were selected as their contribution in the gross domestic product is very high, and these crops are vulnerable to the climate change.
Suresh Prasad Mehta, chief cane manager at the Eastern Sugar Mills Pvt Ltd also seems upbeat about the results of the project. “Not only the productivity of farmers has increased, sugar recovery from the canes of farmers has also gone up after farmers were trained on the climate adaptation and resilient techniques,” he said.
IFC officials say that the climate smart agriculture holds a tremendous opportunity in Nepal. According to a recent study by the IFC, Nepal offers a total of $46 billion worth of climate investment opportunities by 2030 including $4.8 billion specific to climate-smart agriculture. Highlighting the investment potential for the private sector, the report entitled ‘Climate Investment Opportunities in South Asia’ has also called the government to create an enabling environment for the investment potential to materialize.
The IFC has been providing financing support to Nepal for the implementation of the climate resilient agriculture project through its climate investment fund. “The IFC builds in economics for the farmer, empowering them by providing training where they can increase yield and reduce the cost of production,” said Harsh Vivek, operations officer at South Asia Advisory Services of the IFC.