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Women: Key to agricultural development in Nepal

Agriculture is key to Nepalese economy by determining economic growth and employment for most of the rural people and it is said as the foundation of the development of the country. However, no extra developmental activities have been done by the concerned agencies in this sector except few investment on irrigation and agricultural development projects.

Agricultural production in Nepal is highly determined by the diversity in farming system, influenced in turn by the variety in agro-biodiversity and agro-ecological topography. Still agricultural production is largely determined by nature alone, which is not favourable for the poor farmers who do great investments in farming crops. Factors like weather conditions are decreasing the productive capacity of the land are leading to food insecurity.

The outmigration of economically active group of population, the socio-political instability to invest on agriculture or the lack of appropriate technology, are not the only factors that explain the lack of agricultural development in Nepal. Besides this, gender discrimination is what is resting huge burden for women to hold and manage their family and carry their farm activities for the subsistence of the family.

Discrimination of the 50% of the worlds’ food producers

Rural women are the main producers of the world’s staple crops (maize, rice, and wheat) which provide up to 90% of the rural poor’s food intake. Likewise, they are responsible for half of the world’s food production and produce between 60 and 80% of the food in most developing countries.

Despite the fact that women produce much of the food in developing countries like Nepal, they also remain more malnourished than most men. This is creating physical and biological challenges to their health which are not being addressed by the concerned sector. Moreover, as agriculture becomes industrialized with globalization, women remain concentrated in the labor-intensive parts of the agricultural value chains, without contracts, with low wages and limited benefits.

Time to close the gender gap

The role of gender in agriculture has gained growing attention among researchers, aid donors, and policymakers during the last years. Different international organizations as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Bank emphasize women’s contributions to agriculture in developing countries like Nepal.

Different reports like The State of Food and Agriculture 2010–2011 or The World Development Report 2012 stress that women are wise decision makers but also effective resource managers if they are given the opportunity to realize their potential.

Therefore, the main conservative thought for women as the birth machine and restriction within the four walls of house needs to be over rooted. It is pivotal for agriculture development in Nepal to ensure equal access for resources, education, techniques and gender equality, so that they can work efficiently to their full ability to change rural women poor condition.  

Picture credits: Landscape Nepal by Wimzz, No title by Nirat Sthapit.