Modern Agricultural Practices to Empower Farmers
Kabir Ekramul is a food security advisor for CARE. He has worked in many parts of the world on food security. In this blog he talks about ways that Nepal can progress and rebuild after the devastating earthquake by using modern agricultural practices and empowering farmers to reach their full potential.
People often ask me - what is the best way to help people in a situation of extreme crisis. I have wrestled with this question for a long time and I have come to realize that making people capable of taking control over their own lives is the best way to help them.
I came to Nepal as a food security advisor for CARE with the mindset of doing just this and helping people take control of their own lives. While designing food security programs I always think about the long term implication of our actions. It is important to help people at the time of crisis, but at the same time it is even more important to ensure that people do not depend on us completely in the future. For example, the months of June and July are the planting periods and if the farmers are not doing that then the people who depend on agricultural products will suffer as there will be low yields in the future. In such a situation it is our responsibility to help farmers engage themselves in agriculture.
The climate of Nepal varies from one place to another from plain lands, to hills and mountains. At the moment Nepal relies entirely on rice as its staple crop, but it is also extremely important to grow alternative crops. When disasters strike – such as this earthquake - people can lose all their rice fields and their entire livelihood. They find themselves unable to grow any alternative crops because they lack the necessary knowledge to do so. As a result, they are in very real danger of facing food shortages. Therefore, intercropping (where different varieties of crops can be grown in the same field) becomes crucial.
CARE is providing different varieties of vegetable seeds, millet seeds and paddy seeds to the people of Nepal so that they are encouraged to adopt this practice of intercropping and varying crop production. CARE has also introduced a ‘cash for work’ program which supports farmer’s with cash and technical support to allow them to start rebuilding themselves – as they are the ones who know best how to do so.
It is also important that Nepal starts using hybrid seeds as well as intercropping. Hybrid seeds are produced by cross pollination which increases crops yield and the nutritional value of the crop. Taking Bangladesh (my country) as an example; the country is now entirely self- sufficient in rice production since it started using hybrid seeds.
I have seen that farmers in Nepal are very resilient and hard working. They care about their community and plan for the future together. By combining the human potential, modern agricultural practices and natural resources, Nepal has tremendous potential to grow in the sector of agriculture and has a bright future ahead of it.