Kathmandu: In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) and the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) of the Government of Nepal, the Nepal Yak Federation, officially known as the Yak Chauri Farmers Federation, Nepal has been formally established in Kathmandu. The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) played a crucial role in organizing a two-day event in Kathmandu, during which the federation’s constitution for the year 2080 was unveiled.
The event featured key figures such as Revati Raman Paudel, Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, and Surya Prasad Paudel, Joint Secretary, along with Sulochana Shrestha, Deputy Director-General of the Department of Livestock Services. Dawa Sangbu Sherpa, President of the Yak Chauri Farmers Federation, Nepal, joined ICIMOD’s Director-General Pema Gyamtsho in presenting the federation’s bylaws.
During the event, Dawa Sangbu Sherpa introduced the newly formed executive committee and administered the oath of office to its members. He emphasized the federation’s commitment to serving the best interests of Yak Chauri farmers by leveraging their traditional knowledge and expertise. Sherpa elaborated on the organization’s goals, members’ responsibilities, and the importance of maintaining confidentiality.
Sherpa also discussed the challenges encountered during the association’s establishment, including geographical obstacles and compliance with government regulations. He expressed gratitude to all those who contributed to the federation’s formation.
Pema Gyamtsho, ICIMOD’s Director-General, welcomed the formal establishment of the Yak Chauri Farmers’ Federation and recognized the critical role of yaks in high mountain areas with challenging climates. He encouraged collaboration with China, which has successfully integrated yaks into agro-tourism, and suggested that Nepal could follow a similar path.He also highlighted the risks posed by climate change to yak farming and the need for initiatives like this to ensure the growth of the yak population and the welfare of yak farmers.
Secretary Revati Raman Paudel from the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development acknowledged the challenges faced during the formation of the association but expressed satisfaction with the progress made in the yak farming sector. He assured the audience of the government’s support for initiatives aimed at increasing the yak population, diversifying dairy products, and improving the overall business of yak farming. Paudel emphasized the need to promote yak-related products and enhance their branding to increase their marketability. He encouraged the production of “specialized products” from yaks and urged the association to take steps to bring these products to consumers. Paudel also highlighted the importance of prioritizing the development of yak and chauri (crossbreed of yak and cow) entrepreneurship and mentioned that the federation is advocating for advocacy on behalf of yak and chauri. He said, ‘Your role is crucial in advocating with the government. The department will provide support for budgeting, planning, and marketing.’
Additionally, Paudel shared his observations from a recent visit to China with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, where he mentioned that China has opened doors for the development of yak and chauri. He stated, ‘During the recent visit with the Prime Minister, we saw a good number of yaks and productive practices in Sichuan Province, China. We should also move forward in this direction.’ He further mentioned plans to introduce new forms of tourism in Nepal, such as ‘Yak Tourism,’ to educate tourists on yak farming.
Furthermore, Parbata Gautam, the General Secretary of the Federation of Community Forestry Users’ Nepal (FECOFUN), highlighted the importance of connecting the yak and chauri farming community with the community forest and livestock sectors. She stated, ‘We can work together with all community practices to connect the yak and chauri farming community with other sectors.’ Gautam emphasized the need for collaborative efforts between community forest user groups to save the yak and chauri grazing areas, as these areas have decreased due to climate change.
Similarly, Lal Kumar KC, the Vice-President of the Yak and Chauri Federation, discussed the potential of yak and chauri development and expansion in the country through this federation. He expressed confidence that yak and chauri farmers from various regions would work together to resolve policy issues creatively. He said, ‘Despite some problems related to policies and organizational processes in yak farming, we can work together to find solutions.’
During the program, an Assistant Chief District Officer, Rabindra Prasad Acharya, from the Kathmandu district administration office provided information about the registration and renewal of organizations and provided key insights on how to maintain good governance in such organizations.
The program also featured cultural presentations by artists from Chumnunwri Rural Municipality in the northern part of the Gorkha district, showcasing their cultural program based on Himalayan traditions. Farmers and representatives from high Himalayan regions attended the event in their traditional attire on both days.
On the second day,
On the second day, representatives from each district association of the Nepal Yak Federation came together to discuss various issues related to yak and chauri farming in their respective districts. They addressed the need to improve the average productivity of yaks, adopt suitable breeding techniques, strengthen animal healthcare and nutrition management, increase the number of yaks, improve pastureland, and address challenges such as the risk of disease outbreaks and the use of traditional and local remedies.
Farmers also discussed issues such as the difficulty of breeding yaks, especially without proper facilities for artificial insemination, challenges posed by heavy snowfall, and the need for better healthcare and traditional remedies for yaks and other livestock. They emphasized the declining population of knowledgeable elderly individuals who possess traditional knowledge about yak farming and local remedies.
Furthermore, they discussed how yak and chauri farming has not been able to provide a secure livelihood, social security, and self-respect to the people involved. They highlighted the lack of close relationships between yak herders and market intermediaries, leading to market fluctuations and losses. Farmers also pointed out risks associated with yak farming, such as animal attacks and increased competition for grazing land. They stressed the importance of increasing awareness and transferring knowledge about these challenges to the younger generation.
Suresh Thakali, the President of the Yak and Chauri Farmers Federation in Manang, spoke about the challenges posed by climate change in the region. He mentioned that grasslands have deteriorated due to climate change, leading to increased risks of landslides, food scarcity, and water scarcity in the region. Thakali also highlighted the need for insurance for yaks and other livestock.
Yak farming is particularly prevalent in the Himalayan districts of Nepal, including Solukhumbu, Ilam, Taplejung, Panchthar, Sankhuwasabha, Okhaldhunga, Dhading, Nuwakot, Rasuwa, Sindupalchowk, Dolakha, and Ramechhap in Koshi Province; Manang, Mustang, Gorakha, and Myagdi in Gandaki Province; Jumla, Humla, Dolpa, Mugu, Bajhang, and Darchula in Karnali Province; and Bajhang and Darchula in Sudurpaschim Province. The yak population is increasing in Manang and Mustang due to their unique geographical location.
Chandra Nepal, the secretary of the Nepal Yak Chauri Farmers Federation, emphasized the need to prevent youth migration by providing them with opportunities in yak farming. He suggested creating a special scholarship package for the children of yak herders and turning yak farming into a profitable venture through diversification and market integration. He also proposed linking yak farming with tourism, citing the success of the “Chauri Festival” in eastern Nepal (Panchthar and other districts), which could be expanded to promote “Yak Tourism.”
Dr. Pradeep Chandra Bhattarai, Senior Livestock Officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, discussed the government’s efforts to ensure the well-being and promotion of yak farming in Nepal. He mentioned the establishment of a Yak Farm in Solukhumbu in 2030 B.S. and various programs for the development of yak farming at the district level.
Mr. Bhattarai emphasized the expansion of community forests along with grazing areas for livestock. He highlighted the importance of community forest rules and the provision of timber to benefit livestock farmers. He also stressed the need for coordination and special initiatives between community forest users and stakeholders.
Dr. Nina Amatya Gorkhali, the Director Of Nepal Agricultural Research Council, discussed the migration of yaks and the use of artificial insemination techniques to increase their population. She believes that using liquid semen can be more effective than frozen semen and could contribute to a higher number of yaks. Yaks are considered better suited for high-altitude regions like the Himalayas due to their smaller size compared to traditional cattle breeds.
Dr. Rajesh Kumar Rai from Tribhuvan University emphasized the need to focus on yak and chauri (female yak) breeding, along with studying grazing and forage management practices. He used the historical reference of Chanakya, an ancient Indian polymath, who highlighted the challenges of the agricultural state’s focus on profit over community welfare and suggested that the government should prioritize the well-being of farmers. He also suggested implementing insurance programs for yak farming to mitigate risks.
Latika Golayen, CEO of Lekali Corp Private Limited, discussed the demand for yak-related products in the global market, particularly chhurpi (yak cheese), and the importance of maintaining quality and food safety standards.
Sanjeev Jha, the Managing Director of the Dairy Development Corporation, mentioned that yak-produced milk currently makes up only 1% of the Nepalese dairy market, indicating potential for growth.
Dr. Arniko Rajbhandari, Chairman of the Dairy Farmers’ Association, emphasized the need to diversify yak products and educate farmers about quality and standards.
Taranath Pokharel, the General Secretary of the Commercial Goat Farmers’ Association, expressed support for the progress made by the Yak Federation and highlighted the policy and practical issues faced by the yak farming industry.
Finally, after Ramesh Timilsina’s presentation on strategic planning, the participants collaborated to prepare the strategic plan for the Yak-Chauri Farmers’ Federation for the next two years. According to this plan, the federation aims to expand its activities to other districts, enhance the capacity of its committees, and undertake necessary initiatives.
The formal establishment of the Yak Chauri Farmers Association in Nepal marks a significant milestone in the promotion and preservation of yak farming and related cultural heritage. The federation’s goal is to address challenges, promote yak farming, and contribute to the economic development of yak farmers in Nepal.