Nepal becoming country of marginal farmers

November 5, 2006 at 9:26 am Leave a comment

Nepal becoming country of marginal farmers

Agriculture, which holds the key to Nepal’s development, remains a challenging proposition as far as mechanization and modernization is concerned, due to fragmentation and declining size of the holdings. A recent study showed that there has been a huge fluctuation in landholding patterns over the last 40 years.

The May 2005 study commissioned by Winrock International entitled “Land Tenure Situation in Nepal: Policy Outlook” shows that subdivision and fragmentation of holdings have led to numerous uneconomically small and scattered farmsteads, affecting agricultural productivity adversely.
Households with bigger holdings are breaking up into smaller and fragmented ones, making it impossible for mechanization and modernization of agriculture, the study authored by Dr Ram Prakash Yadav, an agricultural economist shows.
It said that the number of land holdings and the total area in the category of land above three hectares declined by 50 and 60 percent respectively, between 1981 and 2001. In the category of land above three hectares, the land holdings in 1981 was nine percent which declined to three in 2001.
Conversely, the number of land holdings and total area in the category of land below two hectares increased phenomenally by 69 and 99 percentage respectively between 1981 and 2001. In other words, households which owned lands below two hectares increased to about 93 percent in 2001.
Households which owned an average of five hectares of lands had declined by more than half in the same period. This showed the lack of consolidation of holdings despite the priority given by the government in various plans.
The decline has been sharp especially in the Terai. The data suggests increase of family members inheriting property was leading to smaller, fragmented holdings, which highlights deteriorating economic conditions of a population reliant on subsistence farming as a means of livelihood.
The slow process of development of other sectors was unable to create an opportunity for the transfer of population from agriculture sector, thus, increasing the pressure on land.
The study shows that the division of parental property as a result of lines of inheritance and decline in socio-economic conditions led to small and fragmented holdings. The researcher has cited increase in population and law of inheritance for the drastic change in land holding patterns.
The study suggested abolition of dual ownership of lands and consolidation of holdings. It has also shown that a major shift was needed in government policy towards agriculture in the future.
Legislation for the abolition of dual ownership was passed in 1997 but it is still in the process of implementation. Of Nepal’s total 23.1 million population in 2001, the total farm population was 19 million.



Entry filed under: Articles.

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