1. Organic and Sustainable Agriculture
From the very beginning of its existence, humankind has been tackling the food provision problem. Transformational changes in the economy, environment and society had both positive and negative consequences. Considerable curtailment of resource-consuming production and structural changes in the economy contributed to a reduction of technological environmental impact but had simultaneous negative social and demographic effects, such as expansion of the poverty scale and depletion of natural resource. Regarding the fact the 1992 World Summit in Rio-de-Janeiro issued a Declaration, which approved a new strategy based on the sustainable development paradigm and envisaged a combination of economic growth, social development, and environmental protection as interdependent and complementary elements of long-term development. It emphasizes that economic and social progress depends critically on the preservation of the natural resource base with effective measures to prevent environmental degradation. The Declaration interprets sustainable development as the model of the population’s activity that is not only oriented at satisfaction of the present and future generations’ main life necessities but also at achievement of a balance between nature and society. Parity of relations within the triad “human – economy – nature” is the basis for sustainable development. Sustainable development generalizes the process of survival and reproduction of the nation’s genetic fund, protection of the natural environment, formation of conditions for reproduction of the biosphere and its local ecosystems, orientation at reduced anthropogenic impact on the natural environment, and harmonization of humans’ development within the nature. So, realizing the need of current issues regarding sustainable development, SECARD Nepal embraces organic and sustainable agriculture in its thematic area.
2. Indigenous Knowledge, Cosmovision and NRM
All regions of the world are affected by accelerated resource depletion and environmental degradation, due to drought, desertification, deforestation, natural disasters, and polluting substances (POPs, Heavy metals etc). Awareness against theses disastrous endeavor has increased markedly in the past decade. Natural Resources Management (NRM) refers to the sustainable utilization of major natural resources, such as land, water, air, minerals, forests, fisheries, and wild flora and fauna. Together, these resources provide the ecosystem services that underpin human life. Natural Resources (NR) provide fundamental life support, in the form of both consumptive and public-good services. Ecological processes maintain soil productivity, nutrient recycling, the cleansing of air and water, and climatic cycles. Indigenous women and men in some aspects have different traditional knowledge of the natural resources within their local environment both regarding habitat, conservation, management, use, storing and processing. There is no blueprint formula which is implicable in all aspect of NRM. It varies according to the specific ethnic group. In some cases the traditional knowledge is disappearing. For instance, the introduction of mod¬ern natural resource management methods and technologies by external agents often does not take into consideration what indigenous men and women traditionally know and have done for ages. Consequently, the sustainability of the natural resource management initiatives can be hampered. Thus , SECARD Nepal with its prime importance in conservation of natural resource, its management and always emphasize the knowledge of indigenous people and their world view for development in various aspect in order to include their knowledge which have been refined and handover from generation to generation. It is well proven fact that natural resource management plays important role and in the meantime to play this role wisdom, subjective interpretation, innovation, documentation, experimentation, validation and popularization are some of the important part of indigenous knowledge and technologies. We do consider proactively in any project intervention process. We are underlined with the motto “conserve the nature = sustain the future”.
3. Food and Nutritional Security
Agricultural development is identified as a means for broader economic growth. Food security is an essential element for stability and opportunity. Poverty, household food insecurity and malnutrition are prevalent problems in Nepal. Twenty-four percent of the population in Nepal lives on less than US$1 per day and the country ranks 145 amongst 177 nations on the Human Development Index (1, 2). Nearly 42 out of the 75 districts in the country are considered “food deficit” (lack sufficient food to meet the needs of its population,) (Helen Keller International, 2010). Since the beginning of the 20th century, people have relied increasingly on a few selected plants for their food supply, with about half of the world’s calorie intake coming from just three crops – rice, wheat and maize. For many centuries, farmers in Nepal had been growing several species of food plants including many varieties of millet, barley and buckwheat. Due to present changed cultivation pattern, majority of indigenous cultivars are in vulnerable state and are near to extinct, which are major source of nutrition for many indigenous community. So regarding the fact SECARD Nepal emphasize food and nutritional security via conservation and promotion of indigenous crop species which contain a huge amount of nutritional source, regard as a nutritional tablet for the poor and marginal rural peoples.
4. Women and Community Empowerment
In most developing countries, women are responsible for obtaining water and fuel and in managing household consumption. As a result, they are especially concerned with the quality and sustainability of the environment. Yet, because women are largely absent from decision-making, environmental policies, often do not take into account the close links between their daily activities and the environ¬ment. Women account for half of the food production in developing countries. In some Areas of Nepal, they have to walk the whole morning to fetch water and fuel. Women are also equally active in community forestry and other income generating activities. In Nepal, women are the major labour force in transplanting rice, millet, maize and are also involved in daily household activity. Women, however, are still largely absent from public decision-making in environmental management, protection, and conservation while being critical actors at the grassroots level. So for crosscutting the issue SECARD Nepal from its establishment gives priority in women’s participation in various income generating activities, conservation activities and educational activities. Similarly we do concert the community as a whole for their empowerment in various aspects of conservation, sustainability and resource utilization.
5. Soil and Plant Health
From the beginning of the human civilization we are continuously growing food for our survival. Without food we couldn’t think of human existence. But with this production practices many problems are also increasing continuously as a counterpart on crop production practices. Disease and pests are the major constraints in crop production worldwide. This makes a huge loss in production potentiality. To increase the current food demand and minimize any adverse pressure to production base as it can not be expanded rather it is squeezing day by day, best possible alternative need to be invented and appleied. Among different approaches, we realize soil and plant health services is one of the major step forward to mitigate the insecurity and minnimize different problem on agriculture. To increase the current food demand the loss should be minimized as we don’t have arable land to expand for increasing the crop production. Over one billion people are going hungry every day. The majority of this one billion are smallholder farmers who rely entirely on their crops to feed their families. We lose up to 40% of the food that is grown due to pests and diseases. For every 1% reduction in crop losses, we can potentially feed millions more people. This can be done today – with no extra use of land, water, fertilizers or chemicals. Regarding the fact SECARD Nepal is active all over Nepal in plant and soil health relative activities. We believe we can improve food security and reduce poverty by reducing crop losses. We could feed more people and we could add a day’s more meal to the poor and marginal food deficit community.
Nepal is represented as a biodiversity rich country which comprises 0.09% of global land area. Similarly, Nepal is richly endowed with numerous agricultural crops and plants which became possible by variation in climate. It is situated on the central part of the world’s top 20 hottest global biodiversity hotspots, the Himalayas. Nepal’s biodiversity, thus, becomes a globally significant and locally important as biodiversity is the important source of livelihoods and income generation. The agro-biodiversity in the country is so immense that people found to have invented and adopted consuming and growing several kinds of food items to cope their daily nutrition requirement. About 21% (3.2 million hectares) of the total land area of Nepal is used for cultivation. Until recently, efforts to preserve biodiversity have focused on natural ecosystems, using tools such as protected areas despite these representing less than ten per cent of the earth’s land surface. In contrast, approximately 37 per cent of the land is currently under agricultural production. Given this land use, there is increasing recognition that many species interact with agricultural systems, even if their primary habitat is in natural areas. Moreover, large proportions of the total species in a region are likely to be found in agriculture systems. The management of these systems can, thus, dramatically affect the level of biodiversity, as well as the success of particular species. Unfortunately, farming, the major detrimental cause to biodiversity loss has not been given emphasis and we have seen the necessity and started to work in agro-biodiversity conservation.