Exposure Visit to Nepal towards Knowledge and Capacity Building of SAARC Member States on Climate Smart Agriculture (12 – 16 June 2023)

Exposure team poses for a group photo with ICIMOD team

The economy of most SAARC countries is largely dependent on agriculture. But the recent record-breaking heatwaves, frequent cyclones, massive floods, lack of rain, untimely rains, scarcity of irrigation water, saline water during tides, and other extreme cli mate events have significantly affected the agricultural production of the region. The frequency of these events has increased in the past decades.

Climate smart agriculture (CSA) technology is considered as an important approach to address the climate change impact to ensure the sustainable increase of agricultural productivity. But the important constraints to scaling up CSA technology in South Asia are the lack of access to technology, policy, and institutions and the lack of awareness about CSA at the local, provincial, and national levels.

In order to address these constraints and build the capacity of member states, an exposure visit was organized by the ‘Consortium for Scaling-Up Climate Smart Agriculture in South Asia (C-SUCSeS)’ project of SAARC agriculture Centre (SAC) in Nepal from 12 – 16 June 2023. The exposure team consists of researchers, scientists, farmers, extensionists, and policymakers from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Maldives, Bhutan, and Nepal have participated in the visit.

The team members visiting an activity run by NARC

The main objectives of the exposure visit were to promote and enhance regional cooperation through the exchange of CSA knowledge an d sharing of experiences among the member states; expose policymakers, researchers, and extension agents to the CSA policies, strategies, and practices of Nepal and to build the capacity of stakeholder responsible for scaling up CSA technologies in their respective countries to achieve the intended objectives of the project.

Nepal is one of the member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), ranked fourth in terms of global vulnerability to climate change. But Nepal’s agriculture department is revolutionizing agriculture by adding climate-smart agriculture to farmers’ adaptation to environment-friendly ways of harvesting rainwater, maintaining soil health through organic farming practices, and helping reduce harmful carbon emissions from greenhouse gases.

The exposure team was introduced to Nepal’s agriculture policies, strategies, and programs in general and elaborated more on the climate smart agriculture programs in Nepal. The Director General of the Department of Agriculture in Nepal, Dr. Hari Bahadur KC was present to welcome the delegates while he says in his presentation that all aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change. Because of the impacts of climate change, Nepal witnessed major changes in the agricultural cropping calendar.

The SAARC Agriculture Centre’s C-SUCSeS Project exposure team also visited Namobuddha Municipal Corporation, an ancient municipality mentioned in Mahabharat. It is situated just east of Kathmandu Valley. The team made a visit to the ‘Climate Smart Village’ (CSV) of Quikal under Namobuddha Municipal Corporation. It was developed by ICIMOD with the support of Climate Adaptation Project and is currently supported by the environment program of the Namobuddha Municipal. The team met its hilly dwellers where they established a knowledge hub with good practices to motivate other farmers to replicate the organic and environment-friendly approaches. Organic farming helps hilly dwellers of Nepal Municipality and other areas adapt to climate change impact because it boosts soil’s ability to retain water and natural nutrition, combat global warming by storing carbon in the soil, and makes the environment free from chemicals and pesticides.

A member of the exposure team talking with hill farmers to know about their success of organic farming

The exposure team visited ICIMOD Headquarters in Kathmandu and made a courtesy call to the Director General of ICIMOD. During the visit, the Director General of ICIMOD expressed views on how the two organizations (SAC and ICIMOD) can work together to combat climate change impacts and build climate-resilient communities in the region. Later, the exposure team visited Godavari Knowledge Hub where around 90 innovative climate-smart and nature-based agricultural technologies are showcased to form a rich knowledge hub. The exposure team visited each activity for about three hours.

ICIMOD representative describing mountain lab activities to exposure team

The exposure team observed activities and asked questions to know more about innovative and climate-smart farming methods. Participants also gained encouragement and inspiration through discussions that are expected to revolutionize agricultural support, extension, and sustainable agricultural systems in the region.

The exposure visit was highly appreciated by the members of the exposure team. Mr. Tajul Islam Patwary, Director of Agriculture Extension in Bangladesh who was one of the team members of the exposure visit commended that ‘All the programs have been fixed in such a way that they are equally important for everyone in the team’. He requested SAC to disseminate the experiences of the exposure visit through an appropriate knowledge forum and applauded the success of the exposure visit.

Another team member of Indian farmer Parmeshwarareddy Yama said, ‘I have learnt a lot from here, which will be useful in my country.’ He also added that ‘it will be memorable in my life. I will share them among the farmers of my country, and reflect them in my own work’.

Every meeting was attended by the Director General and the high-ups, the Mayor, and the superiors, their presentations were also informative and enriching. The schedule was developed in such a way as to generate interest among the team members to learn more for enhancement of the capacity of the members.