First Module of Immersion Course on Madesh for Social Transformation

Since 2010, the Alliance of Agriculture of Food (AAF)/ForestAction Nepal has been organizing the Apprenticeship Modular Course. The course aims to build the capacity of farmers, activists, youth, agriculture students, and others interested in engaging in the campaign “Agriculture for Food.” After successfully completing its 8th series in mid-2023, AAF/ForestAction Nepal has collaborated with the Center for Educational Policies and Practices (CEPP) and Madesh Foundation, and has commenced a new series, titled “Immersion Course on Madesh for Social Transformation.”

This modular training course will consist of three modules and aims to prepare the leadership capable of analyzing society through the lens of social and environmental justice. It primarily targets participants from the Madesh Province, particularly from Dalit and Muslim communities.

In this regard, the first module of this series, themed ” Evolution,” was conducted from November 27th to December 1st, 2023 at Lalgadh Leprosy Trust in Dhanusha. A total of 25 youths actively participated in this training, which covered various topics such as evolution, diversity and discrimination, Madesh, state and governance.

To ensure efficient learning, multiple teaching pedagogies, including PowerPoint presentations, group work and presentations, plenary discussions, and limited lectures, were used during the sessions. Games related to the subject were also employed to facilitate participants’ understanding of the issues. Throughout the five-day session, participants actively engaged in the thematic sessions, leading to effective learning and the gaining of various useful life skills.

This module marked a successful conclusion, with participants actively contributing to the training and gaining valuable knowledge in the process.

 

Interactive meeting with the provincial assembly members of Bagmati province

On 21st December 2023, ForestAction Nepal, the secretariat of the Alliance of Agriculture for Food, organized an interaction program entitled ‘Preamble discussion on the Agricultural Development Bill for Bagmati Province’ at Sap-Falcha, Kathmandu. The objective of the event was to discuss the draft document of Agriculture Bill prepared by Bagmati Province.

The program was conducted in the presence of the Honorable Speaker of Bagmati Province Assembly, Mr. Bhuvan Kumar Pathak, along with honorable members of the Committee on Education, Health and Agriculture of Bagmati Province, including Shreeram Lamichhane, Basanta Kumar Manandhar, Urmila Kumari Lama, Raghunath Maharjan, Samita Khadgi, Meena Parajuli, Dhaneshwori Prajapati, Bindu Shrestha, and Sakuntala Shrestha. Additionally, several stakeholders attended, including agriculture experts, farmers, media personnel, students, representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), and members of AAF.”

During the event, Mr. Uddhav Adhikari, the coordinator of AAF, presented a thorough review of the document, accompanied by valuable feedback from AAF. After the presentation, the floor was opened for questions and views from the participants. Following this, the honorable MPs shared their perspectives, which was then followed by a speech from the honorable speaker. The event concluded with closing remarks from the AAF coordinator.

A summary of the major viewpoints expressed during the discussion;

–  Most of the policy documents emphasize creating jobs through increased production, productivity, and growth. It also seems that the current draft is more focused on promoting agricultural businesses rather than overall agricultural development. Therefore, it would be more appropriate to refer to it as the “Agricultural Business Promotion Act” rather than the “Agricultural Development Bill.”

– Need of act that prevents the fragmentation of agricultural land.

– The provincial government should ensure the provision of a minimum price guarantee for agricultural produce and agricultural products.

– The primary focus should be on overcoming obstacles during the implementation phase of the bill, rather than solely focusing on the process of creating the bill.

– There is a need to develop a model for promoting ecological agriculture. However, considering the current scenario of agricultural education, which is even worse, it is crucial to formulate a policy aimed at improving it.

– There is a need for structural reformation to enhance the effectiveness of agriculture extension process.

– It is crucial to acknowledge and address the crises caused by climate change. Agricultural policies that disregard the climate change crisis on agriculture will not be effective in addressing the challenges that agriculture faces.

– The agricultural insurance system should be simplified and subsidies should be effectively managed.

– It is important to actively involve agricultural students in agricultural entrepreneurship activities.

The honorable provincial assembly members have acknowledged that the policy-making process in Nepal lacks sufficient discussions with stakeholders. However, they view the ongoing discussion on the draft bill as a positive initiative. They also recognize the need for continuous improvement in the process itself, while noting that the discussions surrounding the bill are progressing in the right direction.

Workshop on Policy Provisions in Forest-based Enterprise: Multi-stakeholder consultation

With an aim to discuss on the existing laws, provisions, challenges and opportunities on establishing and operating forest-based enterprise, a multi-stakeholder policy dialogue on Forest-based Enterprise, was jointly organized by ForestAction (EnLiFT2), FenFIT Kathmandu/Bagmati, and FECOFUN Bagmati, in Kathmandu. With Hon. Minister Masina Khadka as the chief guest, the program was participated by diverse actors including representatives from the government, NGOs, INGOs, CSOs among others.

Along with a brief presentation on policy regime and possibilities and challenges around forest-based enterprise, panelists highlighted the challenges faced by diverse actors across the enterprise value chain. In addition, the role of the private sector in forest management was emphasized among other issues during the dialogue.

Agroecological perspectives in the 16th periodic planning

On December 17th, 2023, ForestAction Nepal, the secretariat of the Alliance of Agriculture for Food (AAF), organized a discussion event titled “Agroecological Perspectives in the 16th Periodic Planning” at SAP-Falcha Kathmandu. The main objective of this event was to deliberate on the necessity of incorporating agroecology into the 16th periodic plan, considering the recent publication of its concept note by the National Planning Commission.

The program was conducted in the presence of distinguished guests, including Honorable Binita Kathayat, a member of the Agriculture, Cooperative, and Natural Resources Committee (under the House of Representatives); Honorable Dr. Jaykant Raut, a member of the National Planning Commission; Dr. Hari Bahadur KC, Director General of the Department of Agriculture; Dr. Ram Krishna Shrestha, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development; Mahesh Jaisi, Head of the Agriculture Extension Service Department, IAAS and various stakeholders comprising agriculture experts, farmers, media personnel, students, representatives of civil society organizations (CSOs), and members of AAF.

The event followed a specific modality, beginning with a presentation by the AAF. Mr. Uddhav Adhikari, the coordinator of AAF, presented key facts and figures regarding Nepalese agriculture. This included an assessment of the shortcomings of the previous periodic plan and emphasized the importance of incorporating agroecology into the 16th periodic plan.

Following the presentation, the floor was opened for discussion. A summary of the main viewpoints expressed by the guests and participants is highlighted below;

– agriculture should be regarded as a means of livelihood.

– necessity of allocating agricultural budgets towards the development of environment friendly tools and technologies.

– need of improving implementation strategies of plans.

– due to COVID-19 and other adverse circumstances, many of the goals outlined in the previous plans were not accomplished.

– given the current scenario, an immediate transformation towards agroecological farming may not be possible. Instead, a gradual reduction of chemical use and an increase in organic matter as part of a strategy to transition towards organic farming is required.

– agroecology should be viewed as a scientific approach rather than just a form of subsistence farming.

– current plans and policies have failed to attract the interest of youth in agriculture.

– there is need to establish a co-existence between agricultural extension, research, and development.

– necessity of structural reformation for sustainable transformation of the food system.

– need to develop critical thinking in government programs and processes.

– the need for parliamentarians to have a more active and influential role in shaping agricultural policies and plans.

World Environment Day Celebrated 2023

Environment problems cannot be solved by anyone on their own. It is important for the whole community to be invested if a change is to be made. While “World Environment Day 2023” was globally celebrated with the campaign #beatplasticpollution, the ACIAR funded EnLiFT2 project led by ForestAction Nepal, along with Salle Chaubas Forest Management Committee and Sub Division Forest Office, Chaubas, organized a one-day “School Level Awareness Program” on June 5, 2023, in Setidevi Secondary School, Yakpa tole of Bhumlu-4, Kavre, Nepal. The celebration served      as a spur for collaboration and group efforts to build a more sustainable and environmentally friendly future for future generations. This day was celebrated primarily to raise public awareness of the need to protect the environment by avoiding the use of plastic and instead utilizing eco-friendly alternatives.

Marking the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day 2023, the events were divided into multiple sessions that centered on beating plastic pollution. The sessions were a silent rally on the importance of environmental conservation, with the participation of hundreds of students from three major schools in Bhumlu and Kavre. The rally was demonstrated, seeking to bring recognition of how plastic pollution impacts a natural environment. It was staged to bring attention to environmental issues and prompt action to prevent or address plastic pollution. The plantation program was carried out on the school premises to promote the preservation of trees, maintain a sustainable environment, and promote the greenery around the school premises.
Inter-school speech competitions and inter-school quiz competitions were conducted, in which three higher secondary schools, Bhumlu 4 and 5, participated. The main aim of these competitions was to offer the students the chance to socialize not only with classmates but with different students from other schools and learn through these interactions. Further, this competition also helped the students to observe, share their opinions, choose their words, ease oral communication, and take many actions to motivate them to fight against plastic pollution.
This event was intended to encourage fun learning methods while also enhancing general knowledge on diverse environmental-related themes. Overall, all the participants present there benefited from the diverse themes discussed in this event, making them more environmentally conscious. Two cultural dances and songs were performed by the students to promote social and cultural interaction as well as a sense of community well-being and unity. These dances were accompanied by powerful social messages and narratives. Ecofriendly alternatives like cloth banners, handmade papers, hemp bags, etc. were used throughout the program to encourage the use of green alternatives.

 

Workshop to identify key gaps and challenges pertinent to forest fire management in Nepal

Forest fire pose threats to the ecosystem and human lives every year in Nepal. The problem is exacerbated with rising temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and prolonged droughts. Despite efforts from multiple agencies, forest fire remains a threat due mainly to high accumulation of fuel load in the forests and poor forest management practices. This calls for effective forest fire management strategies with a combination of prevention, preparedness, response, and recovery measures. In this backdrop, ForestAction Nepal in collaboration with Nepal Forester’s Association (NFA), Global Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies (GIIS), and Institute for Study and Development Worldwide (IFSD) organized a half day dialogue to identify key gaps and challenges pertinent to forest fire management in Nepal.

Policy dialogue on the opportunities and challenges of forest enterprise

Attaining prosperity from forestry is one of the pressing policy priorities in the forestry sector of Nepal. With the new local government system in place, there are ample opportunities to support community forests and local farmers in promoting forest-based enterprises. However, there are still gaps pertinent to the financial, technical, and policy aspects of FBEs in Nepal.

With an aim to develop a common understanding on the issue and identify ways forward to promote FBEs, ForestAction Nepal in support of the Australian Aid, conducted a local government-level policy dialogue on the opportunities and challenges of forest enterprises in Chautara, Sindhupalchok, on October 1, 2023. Diverse stakeholders from local government (wards, municipalities), the Department of Cottage and Small Industries (Gharelu), technicians, researchers, NGO (Forest Action Nepal), furniture entrepreneurs, Lapsi entrepreneurs, media and outreach, etc. were actively engaged to discuss the opportunities, challenges, and ways out for forest enterprise development.

 

Participatory Theatre on Creating Awareness about Agriculture for Food “SattaPatta”

ForestAction Nepal, the secretariat of Alliance of Agriculture for Food (AAF) collaborated with the Shilpee Theatre Group (STG) and produced a theatre play namely “Sattapatta” with an aim of creating public awareness on the importance of natural farming and its potential benefits for soil and human health.

The main focus areas of the theatre were;

– The impact of industrial food (chemical-based junk), on soil and human health and planetary life and lives of farming communities

– Soil degradation due to malpractices in farming.

– Toxicity in food and alarming non-communicative disease such as cancer and diabetics

– Initiate a discussion about agroecology adaptation and its challenges in the current context of commercial food industry and industrial farming backed by GMO technology

The Forum (Kachahari) Theatre SattaPatta was performed in different 10 villages/cities from 1st of October to 13th of October 2023 respectively. The journey of SattaPatta began with a first premium show performance on 1st of October in the open space of Shilpee Theatre premises. In other districts the play was hosted by the local organisation associated with AAF and STG in different places.

After every performance, the team interacted with the participating audiences and collected their views. The play was highly appreciated by participants all over the places. The audience realized the harm of chemical fertilizer and pesticide to human health and environment. They agreed the way forward for healthy life and sustainable life is only organic food and farming.

Preliminary discussion on the draft of agriculture act 2080

On July 30, 2023, ForestAction Nepal, the secretariat of the Alliance of Agriculture for Food (AAF), organized a preliminary discussion program on the need for an integrated agriculture act at SAP-Falcha, Kathmandu. The event was attended by distinguished guests, including Dr. Bedu Ram Bhusal, Honorable Minister of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MOALD), as well as the Secretary and joint secretaries from MOALD. There were also honorable members from the Agriculture, Cooperative, and Natural Resources Committee (under the House of Representatives), the National Planning Commission, the National Farmers Commission, and various other stakeholders, such as agriculture experts, farmers, media persons, activists, representatives of CSOs, and AAF members.

The event was conducted in two sessions. During the first session, two presentations were made, one by the Ministry and the other by AAF. The second session was dedicated to discussions on the topic at hand.

During the event, Dr. Rajendra Mishra, the joint secretary from MOALD, shared the first draft of the Agriculture bill that was prepared by the Ministry. In his presentation, he emphasized that the proposed act aims to promote the protection of farmers, the farming occupation, agri-business, water conservation, indigenous products/commodities, and agrobiodiversity.

Additionally, Dr. Rajendra Mishra further highlighted that the proposed act also encompasses the management of a gene bank and ensures the rights of farmers and farming communities.

At the event, Dr. Krishna Prasad Paudel, an AAF activist, presented a review of the first draft of the Agriculture bill. Dr. Paudel criticized the draft prepared by the Ministry, stating that it appeared to be more focused on the agricultural business promotion act rather than on an integrated agriculture act. He emphasized the need for all dimensions of agriculture to be taken into consideration while preparing the act. He expressed his concern that the proposed act failed to prioritize the smallholder farmers. He also stressed the importance of extensive discussions with stakeholders during the drafting process of the act.

Following the presentations, the floor was opened for the discussions. During the open discussion session, various viewpoints were expressed by the guests and participants. Here is a summary of the key viewpoints:

– In order to make the act more comprehensive and effective, there is still a need for significant discussions.

– There is an urgent need for the act to be implemented as soon as possible in order to address the challenges and opportunities in the agricultural sector effectively.

– There has been a lack of attention given to conservation in regards to the farmers group, women group, and forest group.

– Before the formulation of Agriculture act, there is a need to discuss effectively on issues of arable land.

– The purpose of the Agriculture Act should be to localize and empower farmers by prioritizing institutional and bureaucratic restructuring.

– Research institutes and university should actively engage in research initiatives, create knowledge, and provide evidence-based recommendations to foster progress in agriculture. Furthermore, these institutions should work collaboratively and take ownership of implementing policies, programs, and interventions aimed at addressing the challenges faced by farmers and promoting sustainable agricultural practices.

– The Agriculture Act should comprehensively address the important aspects of education, research, and dissemination within the agricultural sector.

– There is a need for coordination between the Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Irrigation, and the Ministry of Forestry and prepare the integrated act.