Riverbed farming

Riverbed farming can be used to increase household income and to improve the food security of landless and land-poor households in the Terai area of Nepal.

It is estimated that about 8,000 hectares of riverbed land would be suitable for agricultural cultivation in the Kailali and Kanchanpur Districts in the Western Terai areas of Nepal. After the river water recedes in the post-monsoon season, vegetables are planted in ditches dug into the seasonal sand banks; the crops are harvested before the onset of the next monsoon. In 2006, Elam Plus of HELVETAS Swiss Inter-cooperation Nepal, assessed local practices of riverbed farming and piloted an improved approach with 670 farmers, mostly from the indigenous Tharu community. During the first year they cultivated 43 hectares. Since the initial results indicated that riverbed farming could increase the target population’s income significantly, the programme was expanded from the initial two districts (Kailali and Kanchanpur) to two new districts (Banke, and Bardiya). The number of households was increased to 2000 in 2008 and 3165 in 2012 after the initiative won a Global Development Market Place award from the World Bank.

WOCAT database reference: QT NEP 34

Location: Kanchanpur and Kailali Districts, Nepal

Technology area: 4 km2

Conservation measure(s): Agronomic

Land Use: Originally fallow land now used for one season crop plantation

Stage of intervention: Rehabilitation for income generation

Origin: Ganges plains of India

Climate: Humid/subtropical

Related approach: Land distribution and allocation for riverbed farming (QA NEP 34)

Compiled by: Hari Gurung, Elam Plus, Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation

Date: April 2011, updated March 2013

Kanchanpur and Kailali Districts, Nepal