More than half of Nepal’s population live in poverty. Poor access to health and education, low literacy rates, limited agricultural productivity, malnutrition and inequities resulting from traditional social structures limit Nepal’s ability to make gains in social development.
Sustainable agricultural systems solutions lie at the heart of economic development and poverty reduction. Agriculture faces a set of numerous interdependent challenges—associated with degrading resources, underdeveloped agricultural institutions and policies, and lack of productive technologies—that limit the improvement of farm household livelihoods. The challenges take different shapes in the lowland Terai rice–wheat farming systems (an extension of the Ganges Plain of India) compared with the mixed crop–livestock–tree farming systems of the hill and mountain areas.
ACIAR has supported collaborative research in Nepal since the early 1990s, including projects on small ruminants, wheat and legumes, and Australian Aid has supported community forestry research and development activities. Other donors have supported rice and maize improvement. Many districts of Nepal still experience food deficits, and there is now scope for improved integration of soil, water, crop, livestock and tree components of the farm system, in addition to work aiming to increase the productivity of the individual components through adoption of available technologies.