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In a quest to bring more profitable agriculture to Phungling in eastern Nepal, city leaders and planners sat down with experts from ICIMOD’s Himalica initiative to devise a five-year plan that will address current challenge to farmers seeking to move from subsistence techniques to modern technologies.
Located in Taplejung, Phungling is a pilot project site for the Himalica programme supported by the European Union. Approximately 45 participants, including the mayor and deputy mayor, attended a two-day workshop to devise an agricultural development strategy for the area. The plan will not only lay out possibilities for assisting local farmers but also provide important guidance on future budget allocation to support more commercial forms of cultivation, such as cardamom, a high-value crop for export.
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At the inaugural session, Chhatrapati Pyakurel, the mayor of Phungling, said the Municipality expects to see a shift in traditional subsistence mountain farming to commercialization of agriculture and adoption of modern technologies and practices to address past and existing problems in agriculture sector in general, and finding solutions to manage disease in pest in cardamom and get the right price of large cardamom in the international market. While speaking in the inaugural session, Deputy Mayor, Bam Bahadur Bhattarai thanked the Himalica team from ICIMOD and ECDF for their support.
Himalica Programme Coordinator Surendra Raj Joshi thanked all the newly elected representatives and ward officials for inviting ICIMOD to facilitate the workshop, and said the workshop will discuss where to take agriculture in the next five years and how to reduce risks coming from the market, climate change, and other factors. Joshi also said they would look at agriculture from food security, value chain, and enterprise development points of view. In his presentation, Joshi cited examples of agricultural transformation from Himachal Pradesh, India and other parts of the Hindu Kush Himalaya.
ECDF Chair Kumar Siwa; SABAH’s Executive Director Robin Amatya and Associate Professor of Rampur Agriculture College Rishi Kattel also provided good wishes during inaugural session while appreciating the initiative taken by newly elected local government to come up with a draft strategy that will take into account people’s aspirations in terms of agricultural development such as how to commercialize agriculture, make it more sustainable, link it to tourism, build agri-based enterprises, and develop technical capacity in agriculture.
After the inaugural session, Min Bdr. Gurung of ICIMOD, oriented the participants on the steps that would be followed over the next two days to come up with an agriculture development strategy.
As part of the first step, various representatives from ICIMOD, ECDF and city agencies established the ‘baseline”, so all participants could decide “where they needed to go” in the next five years. For the second step, participants were broken up into five groups and asked to do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis of agriculture based on their own experiences and observations.
Step three began on day two when guidelines and tools were shared to conduct the visioning exercise for agricultural development. Participants were divided into four groups to write a vision statement on what changes or scenarios they wanted to see in agriculture in the long term. All four groups presented their versions of the vision statement at the plenary, where the most promising vision statement was tweaked. As part of the fifth step, the participants worked in groups to list four-five strategic goals, including actions under each strategic goal and key indicators and timeline for each action.
Although the vision and strategic goals and actions were presented at the plenary, there were many questions and issues raised about the actions and indicators which need to be further worked out before it can be submitted to the Phungling Municipality Council for approval.
They agreed on a vision and strategic objectives, which are summarized below.
“Create employment and make competitive, tourism-centric, self-sufficient, inclusive, and prosperous municipality through sustainable agriculture development”
When developing an annual plan to achieve the above strategic goals, the planner should give due consideration to the development of climate-resilient, inclusive, women-friendly and integrated agricultural system.
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