- The emergence of Agriculture 2.0 signifies a revolutionary shift towards technology-driven practices, promising heightened productivity, sustainability, and upliftment of rural communities.
- Challenges in Nepalese agriculture encompass fragmented land holdings, limited modern techniques, erratic weather, and climate change impacts, which have led to low farmer incomes and rural-urban migration.
- Agriculture 2.0, integrating IoT, AI, data analytics, and automation, offers solutions by enabling informed decisions, risk mitigation, and resource optimization.
- Implementing practices like Direct Seeded Rice and Surface Seeding of Wheat, adopting agroforestry, intercropping, and leveraging technology, along with climate smart agriculture, can transform Nepal’s agriculture for enhanced food security, economy, and resilience.
- Twinkle Oli, Ram Datta Bhatta
Agriculture has long been the backbone of Nepal’s economy, providing livelihoods to the majority of its population. We have been grown up knowing, studying, writing about Nepal and agriculture in Nepal. We haven’t missed the quote, “Nepal is an Agricultural Country”. But now looking at the uncultivated paddy fields and barren lands I wonder where the agriculture sector and future of farmers is going. With the advent of agriculture 2.0, a revolutionary paradigm shift is taking place, transforming traditional farming practices into modern, technology-driven approaches. This evolution not only promises to enhance productivity and sustainability but also holds the potential to uplift rural communities, ensuring food security and economic growth for the nation. In the context of Nepal, Agriculture 2.0 is poised to bring about a new era of prosperity for its farmers and the agriculture sector as a whole.
Agriculture 2.0, often referred to as “smart farming” or precision agriculture, “integrates advanced technologies such as the Internet of Things (IOT), artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and automation into traditional agricultural practices. This approach allows for real-time monitoring, data-driven decision making, and the optimization of resources like water, fertilizers, and pesticides. In the context of Nepal, where small holder farmers dominate, adopting Agriculture 2.0 practices can significantly enhance their productivity while also conserving resources.
Nepal faces several challenges in its agriculture sector, including fragmented land holdings, limited access to modern agriculture techniques, unpredictable weather patterns, and the ongoing effects of climate change. These challenges have hampered productivity, leading to low income levels among farmers and contributing to rural-urban migration. Agriculture 2.0 offers innovative solutions that can address these issues by enabling farmers to make informed decisions, mitigate risks, and achieve better yields.
It’s already end of Shrawan and some farmers haven’t planted paddy (Rice) still due to late entry of monsoon and their dependence on rainfed farming and lack of year-round irrigation facilities. Monsoon normally enters Nepal on June 10 and monsoon withdrawal occurs on September 23. Due to climate change every year temperature rises by 0.06 C in Nepal and monsoon delays. Monsoon enters from Eastern part of Nepal and progresses slowly towards western part. Monsoon reaches Karnali and Sudurpaschim provinces very late. Delay planting of Rice is one the reason of low productivity of rice. Late rice plantation and harvesting also affects the plantation of subsequent crop mostly Wheat. Delay wheat planting then declines the yield of Wheat. In this way whole annual cycle of cropping is affected by Late Paddy plantation. The traditional paddy transplantation emits methane which causes greenhouse effect and is responsible for global warming and climate change.
Nepal has a food deficit problem that is most acute in the mountain and hill districts with annual food shortage for six months or more. The situation could become worse unless agricultural productivity and rural economies are transformed. Adoption of intensive farming throughout the country along with appropriate technological innovation offers promise for such a transformation. Its high time we need to adopt climate smart agriculture practices. Some practices that should be adopted are listed below :
- Replacing Puddled transplanted rice with DSR( Direct seeded rice) so that farmers don’t have to wait until monsoon to start plantation. DSR can enable farmers of western Nepal to early plant and early harvest paddy and increase national rice yield if weed management can be done effectively during early growing period.
- Rather than expending time, energy, and money on land preparation after rice harvest for wheat plantation it’s time to guide farmers for the adoption of Surface seeding of wheat. It ensures early planting and thus increases wheat production.
- Agroforestry i.e. incorporating multi use trees with the compatible crops like cardamom under uttis, Tea under siris, Amriso under Utis ,Ginger and Banana under terraces.
- Intercropping and mixed cropping with legumes ( Soyabean, Blackgram, Horsegram, Pea) and Nitrogen fixing crops ( clover and legumes) i.e. Maize + Soyabean – Barley in upland irrigated Midhills of Nepal.
- Use of Bio fertilizers like Azospirulum ( A. lipoferum for Rice and Maize), Rhizobium, Azolla , Blue green algae
- Use of green manuring crops Dhaincha , Sun hemp, Cowpea, Berseem, Siris, Titepati, Asuro, khirro. It increases the soil organic matter and cuts the fertilizer amount to some extent.
- Use of machinery like zero till drill, Seed cum fertilizer drill, multiple nozzle boom, Turbo happy seeder, Laser land leveler, Conary and rotary weeder. Farmers can own subsidized machinery through farmers’ groups or cooperatives.
Agriculture 2.0 has the potential to revolutionize the Nepal’s agriculture landscape, ushering, in a new era of productivity, sustainability, and prosperity for its farming communities. Governmental and Non-governmental agencies working in Agriculture should focus on climate smart agriculture and provide trainings, build infrastructure, establish Ag service centers and work on capacity building of farmers in improved , climate resilient agriculture technologies inorder to uplift the livelihood of farmers , ensure food security , strengthen nation’s economy, and ultimately leading to a brighter and more resilient future for Nepal’s agricultural sector.
Writer Introduction: Twinkle Oli, holding an MSc.Ag in Agronomy, and Ram Datta Bhatta, also equipped with an MSc.Ag in Agronomy. These individuals encapsulate a wealth of knowledge and dedication in the field, poised to illuminate new paths in agricultural excellence.