Sahaj operates under a bilateral agreement between the Government of Nepal and the Government of Switzerland. Sahaj is a Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) project, implemented by a consortium of Swisscontact (as the lead agency) and the Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED). The programme focuses on Province Number 1 (the far-most eastern province).
Sahaj Phase 1 (March 2016 - November 2020) aimed to increase farmers’ income by integrating them into commercial agriculture markets and networks. Using an approach that makes private sector markets work better for the poor (also known as a Market Systems Development or MSD), the programme supported market-based solutions around inputs and farming. The impact targeted smallholder farmers, including women and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The programme’s activities boosted on-farm productivity and increased the marketing potential of their agricultural products. Sahaj Phase 1 partnered with over 75 private sector and 10 public sector actors through around 50 interventions. It covered over 50 districts of Nepal, including 12 of the 14 districts in Province Number 1. The programme created 1,800 new jobs, and increased farm-income of 45,800 households.
Sahaj Phase 2 builds on the work done in the previous phase, but shifts focus towards growth and investment in forward market linkages, strengthening the country’s commercialisation, processing and export of value-added agriculture products. The second phase will run from December 2020 until November 2024. The programme will provide financial and technical support towards increased provision of services and access to innovation for agri-businesses in Province Number 1. This will increase demand for smallholders’ produce, including them in value-added supply chains and building resilience in rural communities through higher employment and income.
Sahaj’s slogan “partner in innovations for agriculture” will be paramount in phase 2 – a strong focus on supporting investment in small and medium-sized agri-businesses with innovative services in the province. This will be done through three pillars supporting i) agriculture services, ii) non-agriculture services, and iii) the overarching business environment. Under these pillars, the programme will identify and address constraints to growth, unlocking the services agri-businesses need to invest in innovation and of value-added sustainable agriculture products. This includes addressing policy bottlenecks and unlocking potential for closer collaboration between the government and the private sector. Sahaj will build a portfolio of interventions (support for Small and Medium Enterprise partners), starting in the maize, dairy, cardamom and vegetable sectors. Additionally, the programme will support the government’s efforts to strengthen the federal structure by working closely with Provincial and Local Government units.
Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development