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30 May 2017 | Forests

Cooperatives prepare business plans to promote agroforestry in Chitwan, Nepal

One of the wider objectives of Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is to promote agroforestry to reduce the burden put on natural forests and have trees growing outside forests. To promote agroforestry in Chitwan district, Nepal, four hotspots were selected among eight identified under the District REDD+ Action Plan (DRAP), technically supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. One cooperative from each selected hotspot was selected through a baseline study conducted by Nabin Bhattarai and Trishna Singh Bhandari from the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD). All the four cooperatives were chosen on the basis of their active engagement in agricultural activities and the possibilities they present for agroforestry activities. The selected cooperatives are: Nyureni Fresh Vegetable and Dairy Production Cooperative (Shaktikhaur), Saemaul Agricultural Development Cooperative (Piple), Sangalo Agricultural Development Cooperative (Korak), and Milijuli Beekeeping Cooperative (Padampur), each with 100 members on average. These cooperatives will promote agroforestry among their members and ultimately contribute to the promotion of agroforestry and the adoption of related activities in their respective areas.

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Participants from four cooperatives of Chitwan attending final workshop on preparation agroforestry business plan Photo credit: Bishwa Raj Karki

An orientation programme was conducted by Bhandari and Bishwa Raj Karki (an independent consultant) to sensitize cooperative members to the importance and benefits of adopting agroforestry activities. Cooperative members were asked to prepare business plans for this purpose. After confirming their willingness to prepare agroforestry business plans for their respective cooperatives, two workshops were held in the months of March and April with core members of the four cooperatives.

The first workshop, which was held at Saemaul Cooperative in Piple, sensitized members of all the four participating cooperatives to the importance of a business/strategy plan for accomplishing the vision of their respective cooperatives. At that point, the cooperatives did not have a strategy plan and had a very little knowledge about the importance of the same. Thus the workshop helped them understand that a business/strategy plan will help them attain their aims and objectives. This workshop also introduced agroforestry and highlighted its benefits. With facilitation from forest experts, the participants became very willing to adopt agroforestry activities and implement these through their cooperatives.

1. Representative of the Saemaul Agricultural Development Cooperative present their vision, aims, and objectives through a business plan Photo credit: Trishna Singh Bhandari/ICIMOD 2. Cooperative members work in groups to prepare individual agroforestry business plans for their respective cooperatives Photo credit: Trishna Singh Bhandari/ICIMOD

The second workshop emphasized on the preparation of individual agroforestry business plans for each cooperative. The three-day intensive workshop was held in Sauraha, Chitwan, with eight members from each cooperative participating. Both men and women participated in equal proportion. Karki, as the facilitator of the workshop, presented examples of other farmers who had prepared agroforestry business plans. He explained the process/methodologies involved, handed over business plan formats, conducted group work sessions, and provided support and guidance throughout the workshop. Experts from the District Forest Office and the District Agricultural Division were also present to provide inputs to and suggestions on the business plans. The expertise, support, and guidance of the experts enhanced the plans in accordance with the capabilities of each cooperative. The cooperatives prepared four individual drafts of agroforestry business plans with guidance from the experts and facilitators.

The business plans include the vision, mission, aims, and objectives of the cooperatives; strategies referring to a five-year plan; and action plans and activities referring to a one-year strategy plan. While agroforestry activities are the major priority, the plans also focus on vegetable and fruit farming, dairy production, and beekeeping. The cooperatives now have their own five year agroforestry strategy/business plans and one-year action plans. The implementation of agroforestry is expected to increase the number of trees in the hotspots of Chitwan where the major issue has been deforestation. This will reduce pressure on natural forests and will ultimately help mitigate the increase of greenhouse gases caused by deforestation.

These plans will be translated from Nepali to English for reference purposes. ICIMOD will support one of the many activities listed in the business plans of the cooperatives, which is a three-day bio-intensive training to be organized by Everything Organic. The training will focus on soil management, high yield sheet compost bed making, the benefits of organic farming for health and environment, the management of insects and diseases, and fruit and nut tree plantation. This training will help farmers better understand new and sustainable methods of farming that can be implemented through their cooperatives’ respective business plans. ICIMOD plans to monitor the implementation of these plans by visiting the cooperatives from time to time in the field.

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