Nepal: a functioning market system empowers smallholder farmers – the “Sahaj” project

In Nepal, agriculture dominates the economy and constitutes 34% of that country’s gross domestic product (GDP). 68% of the population earns its living from agriculture. The agricultural sector is nevertheless still at an early stage in terms of technology and modern approaches to planting and harvesting. The “Sahaj” project implemented by Swisscontact aims to raise incomes for smallholder farmers through the development of a functioning market system.

It is these smallholder farmers in Nepal who lack modern planting and harvesting skills, as well as access to commercial agricultural markets.

The objective of this market development project is to increase incomes in the rural sphere by facilitating access to agricultural markets for beneficiaries while linking them with sales networks. “Sahaj” works directly with public and private market actors to ensure that smallholder farmers will have access to the required skills, high-value services and sales outlets for their products. This is achieved through the development of a strong and well-functioning market system. The so-called “Inclusive Markets” approach increases farmer productivity and improves their marketing potential.

Watch this animation to understand how the Sahaj is implemented in detail.

Nima is telling her story

Nima is a 30-year-old mother of two. She is a schoolteacher while her husband is working abroad. To earn additional income, Nima plants and sells vegetables. She does not know a lot about vegetable gardening and therefore her garden does not yield enough produce for her to make much money. Just like Nima, the majority of Nepali smallholder farmers lack sufficient skills in agriculture and stick to traditional agricultural practices.

Read Nima's story

The “Sahaj” project is a joint Nepali-Swiss government initiative. It is funded through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) as a twelve-year project and implemented by Swisscontact together with the Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED).