In Nepal, agriculture dominates the rural economy and accounts for 34% of the country’s GDP. Sixty eight percent of the population depends on agriculture for their livelihood. However, the agriculture sector is still in a nascent stage as far as technology and modern cultivation methods are concerned. It is mostly smallholder farmers who are engaged in agriculture in the country. Majority of Nepali farmers lack proper knowledge and access to quality inputs and continue practicing traditional methods of farming.
Lack of knowledge, and access to quality inputs and outputs are three crucial problems that are having a negative impact across the agriculture sector today. Nepal’s topography and poor infrastructure also hinder farmers’ access to commercial markets. Sahaj is working directly with public and private market actors to ensure that farmers have access to proper knowledge, quality inputs and high value markets.
Nepal Agricultural Market Development Programme, branded as Sahaj, is a joint initiative of the Governments of Nepal and Switzerland. It is mandated by Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC). Sahaj is designed as a 12-year programme with three phases of four years each. Phase 1 is being implemented by Swisscontact (as the lead) and the Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED).
Sahaj, under SDC’s Nepal Agriculture Growth Initiative, follows the Inclusive Markets approach. It is targeted at rural smallholder farmers, including women and people from disadvantaged groups. Sahaj aims to increase farmers’ income by facilitating their engagement in commercial agriculture markets and participation in networks within markets. This will be achieved through developing a strong and well-functioning markets system that will increase productivity of farmers and boost their marketing potential.
Phase 1 works in three core sectors:
March 2016 – December 2019