Cattle / Forages / Goats / ILRIComms / India / Intensification / Pro-Poor Livestock / South Asia / Vulnerability

Nepal’s livestock sector: In demand and in decline?

Farm scene on the way to Pokhara, Nepal

Livestock fodder on road between Chitwan District and Pokhara, Nepal. An ILRI-CSISA (Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia) project on the Indo-Gangetic Plains of Chitwan District, in south-central Nepal, began in Sep 2010. Project staff are introducing residue-based feeding strategies supplemented with green fodder and concentrates to increase cattle and buffalo milk production (photo credit: ILRI/Susan MacMillan).

IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, has published an interesting case of just why livestock matter so much in Nepal.

Some of the telling facts and figures quoted in this article follow.

Two-thirds of the people in Nepal rely for their livelihoods on agriculture, which contributes 40% of the country’s gross domestic product.

Although Nepal has one of the highest ratios of livestock and poultry to humans (5.8 animals per household) in Asia, the country’s livestock sector is in decline today.

That Nepal’s agricultural productivity is among the lowest in South Asia is believed by many agricultural experts to be due mainly to failures in livestock productivity, health and resources.

For example, Nepal’s poor roads limit access to livestock markets and feeds, forcing the country’s rural farmers to rely on local fodder to feed their animals.

And the Nepalese government’s agricultural extension services reach only 15% of the country’s farm households, with 73% of the country’s villages still having no access to government veterinary services.

A depletion of livestock numbers in this country is leading to depletion of soil nutrients: when animals decline here, soils — and all related farming — also suffer.

Without forage development,  experts say, livestock production and productivity cannot be increased efficiently in Nepal.

Due to the poor productivity levels of local livestock, each year Nepal imports thousands of stronger (and meatier) breeds from India.

Official records of Nepalese goat imports from India are about 500,000 per year, but when informal trading is factored in, the figure may be closer to 1 million goat imports.

Farmers In Nepal’s remote hills and mountains in future may rely even more than they do today on the livestock they raise.

Read the whole article in IRIN: Why livestock matters in Nepal, 24 Jul 2013.

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