Janika Kumari of the Dudoli Villiage Forest Committee
Home to eight of the planet’s highest mountains, including Mount Everest, Nepal has intrigued travelers for centuries with its spellbinding geography and ancient cultures. From tropical savannahs along its southern Indian border to the dramatic rock and ice of the Himalayan mountains along China’s frontier, Nepal is a country of breathtaking diversity.
After a decade-long civil war that saw considerable loss of life and reduced access to food and basic services, Nepal became the world’s newest republic in 2008. Land ownership in Nepal has traditionally been concentrated in the hands of a few. Poor rural households, with limited access to land, cannot meet their food needs and, in some areas, have reached alarming levels of food insecurity.
While Nepal’s agriculture boasts immense genetic diversity and farmer knowledge, years of introduced farming practices coupled with the steep fragile land of the mountain and hill areas have left these areas vulnerable to land degradation, deforestation and erosion. Once self-sufficient in food production, Nepal has become increasingly dependent on imports to meet food demands, making it exceedingly vulnerable to price shocks.
Increasingly, the best land closest to roads is being to grow crops for animal feed, and food for cities or export. As a result, the majority of Nepal’s farming households experience food deficits during the year. Income generating opportunities are also very limited in the rural areas; many men, especially young men, travel elsewhere to earn a living, leaving behind children and women, who suffer most from hunger and malnutrition.
USC Canada in Nepal
USC Canada has been working in Nepal since 1977. In 2007, USC Canada helped create three local non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Today, USC Canada continues to work with local partners, most notably with Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research, and Development (LI-BIRD), and others, in the poor, remote, rural areas in the Middle Hills districts of Sarlahi and Makawanpur and the high Himalayan mountain district of Humla. In these areas, main concerns are coping with the challenging physical environment and adapting to changing weather patterns while trying to grow enough food on which to live.
In total, more than 10,000 people are participating in USC Canada's Seeds of Survival Nepal program, with another 5,000 households indirectly benefiting from the program.
USC Canada is working with its partners to support sustainable agricultural practices through organic farming, soil and watershed management, and biodiversity. The program also promotes the organization of farmers' groups and cooperatives to enhance farmers' livelihoods, as well as farmer-to-farmer exchanges.
All programming here is geared towards the long-term enhancement of food security and food sovereignty, with a focus on seed supply and diversity of plant genetic resources.
At the national level, USC Canada and its partners are working to influence high-level government policy on seeds, plant variety protection, and farmers' rights.
Our Partners in Nepal
USC Canada works with one core partner – Local Initiatives for Biodiversity, Research, and Development (LI-BIRD). With LI-BIRD, USC Canada supports four smaller local organizations: Parivartan Nepal in the hill district of Makawanpur, and Self-Help Initiative Program (SHIP) Nepal in the Himalayan mountain district of Humla, the Dalit Welfare Organization in the dry plains of Banke District, and the Machapuchhare Development Organization in the hills above Pokhara.
Where Do We Work?
USC Canada works in four regions of Nepal, each with a unique climate and difficulties.