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Nepalese farmers to benefit from NZ crop expertise

Nepalese farmers to benefit from New Zealand crop expertise



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Farmers from Eastern Nepal attend the recent launch of the new fodder technologies programme, which is designed to improve household incomes specifically via women in the family.

Nepalese farmers to benefit from New Zealand crop expertise

Staff working within Crop & Food Research’s forage breeding programmes are spearheading a new and exciting project to alleviate poverty within farming communities in Nepal, and improving household incomes from milk sales.

NZAID, the New Zealand Government’s international aid and development agency, will contribute funding to the project, which is aimed at reducing the significant labour time that some Nepalese women spend in gathering and transporting fodder for livestock.

The goal is for farmers to produce their own higher quality fodder to improve milk yields, and free up significant time for farming families, which can then be re-directed into other income-generating activities.

Project leader in New Zealand, Keith Armstrong, says woman dairy farmers in Nepal have to go out and cut forage for the livestock from common lands, often at great distance, and often spending all day at the task. The inadequate levels of fodder that are able to be collected in winter and spring, lead to poor animal nutrition, and consequently poor milk productivity.

“At Crop & Food Research we have developed excellent oat varieties that can be grown in the Himalayan regions during winter when the need for fodder is greatest. An earlier project that we were involved with was able to test the ability of these crops to be grown, along with legumes, so we are confident that this new fodder programme can be rolled-out on a wider and more sustainable scale.”

Mr Armstrong says the Nepal Agricultural Research Council and Department of Livestock Services will oversee in-country implementation and will also provide financial and in-kind support. Importantly, the farmers are enormously supportive and will be strongly involved in this participatory project.

“We are delighted that NZAID has seen the worth of this project to poor farming communities within Nepal. Livestock contribute significantly to incomes through milk production, provision of food and as draught power for land cultivation. If we can ensure that the animals are fitter through provision of high-quality fodder, as well as reducing the need for women to go out and gather the fodder, often over large distances, then we can expect to see significant improvements in the overall well-being of these rural communities.”


ENDS

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