In a move that protects country’s forest base and promotes agriculture, Nepal has decided to come up with a new governmental policy on agroforestry.
With this, Nepal is set to become the second country in the world, after India, to introduce such policy to promote forestry that boosts the agriculture sector.
“Agroforestry should be promoted in Nepal because of our larger forest coverage, which is greater than neighboring India, and in recent times untilled land is increasing in the country. We should utilize the barren land through agroforestry,” said Yubak Dhoj GC, Secretary at the Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation at a policy dialogue program in Kathmandu on November 04, 2017.
Adopting agroforestry is very feasible in Nepal owing to the country’s 45 percent forest coverage of the total area, he added.
A Step Ahead from Declaration Made in 2015
While India adopted its National Agroforestry Policy in 2014, Nepal started its background activity to support such policy three years ago. In 2015, the then Government of Nepal had also endorsed the ‘Kathmandu Declaration on Agroforestry.
The declaration called for a more structured approach among country’s various stakeholders on ways to promote agroforestry through the National Agroforestry Policy.
According to the declaration, the proposed policy would give needed boost for the development of fodder and feed, food and nutrition and energy, while also capping land degradation and encouraging new agroforestry models for various agro-ecological zones.
Science-based Intervention, Need of the Hour
According to Dr Javed Rizvi, Regional Director, South Asia program for World Agroforestry Center (WAC), agroforestry is not a new concept to Nepali farmers.
“Farmers have been cultivating trees on farmland for a long time, which is now called agroforestry. This is not a new concept for Nepal. Local knowledge and science-based intervention are needed for sustainable development of forests in Nepal,” says Rizvi.
Meanwhile, Nepali stakeholders are worried that the existing legal constraints might pose challenge to agroforestry practices in the country.
According to them, there are 32 national policies that talk about agroforestry, but lack clarity on the same.
“Besides clearly drawing the roles and responsibilities of different agencies, the new policy should declare an agroforestry super zone for the areas where the forest coverage is poor,” says Joshi. Murari Raj Joshi, a Consultant for IMCC for designing the policy.
“There are already many provisions that contradict each other and restrict hassle-free trade of timber and forest products. Without legal flexibility, agroforestry cannot thrive here,” says Bishnu Hari Pandit, Chairperson, Kathmandu Forestry College.