KATHMANDU, Aug 12: While urban society is going gaga over organic products, people involved in the trade say Nepali organic products meet only around 8 percent of the domestic demand for organic products.
According to Govinda Sharma, founder of HASERA Agriculture Research and Training Centre a total of 1,101,320 tons of organic vegetables and cereals is produced in the country annually. While most of the organic farming is done in hilly and remote areas, the market centers for such products are mostly in urban areas, he added.
Sharma added that organic farming is done in 180,130 hectares of land across the country. "Out of it, only farms spread over 9,300 hectares are organic certified," he said. "Our studies have showed most of the local consumers buy organic vegetables and cereals on the basis of their contacts or depending on the area where the food come from. For example, consumers are interested to buy organic cereals which are brought from the rural region,” he added.
Many farmers are not going for organic certification because of the high cost involved, said Sunita Nemaphuki, a co-founder of R&D Innovative Solution. "It is because of this that farms producing organic vegetables and cereals for local consumption are not going for organic certification," she said, adding that fragmented land structure in Nepal also pose a challenge in organic certification of farms.
In his budget speech for FY 2018/2019, Minister for Finance Yuba Raj Khatiwada said that the government will encourage youths returning from foreign employment with skills in agriculture to undertake organic farming, and also encourage urban households to go for rooftop farming.
“The government has been organizing meetings and seminars throughout the country for promotion of organic farming. However, we have not seen any concrete roadmap yet," Sharma said. Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development has recently formed a taskforce for promotion of organic farming. The 15-member taskforce comprises of representatives from federal and provincial ministries, organic farmers and entrepreneurs, agro researchers and food activists. The taskforce has already submitted its report to the ministry."However, the ministry is yet to forward the report to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli. As the Prime Minister is out of the country, we are hopeful that the ministry will submit the report to the prime minister as soon as he returns to the country," Uddhav Adhikari, an organic farming activist who is also in the taskforce, said.