Pilot Project in the Making
On 10 June 2019, UNOSSC’s Cities Project initiated a five-day multi-stakeholder mission to Khajura Rural Municipality to conduct a sustainable development needs assessment. Khajura was established in 2017 and is now a growing city in the western region of Nepal with an estimated population of 50,000. Traditional agriculture has been the primary source of income in Khajura, however, lack of access to proper technologies and instruments hamper the improvement of agricultural productivity.
The mission was successful and concluded with a comprehensive report on the needs assessment which includes the findings and recommendations for facilitation of South-South exchange with the local authorities in Khajura for sustainable development. As a result, currently the Cities Project is finalizing the development of a pilot project in Khajura.
The needs assessment was supported by different agencies and stakeholders, with the Cities Project providing overall coordination, financial and facilitation support. Khajura government hosted the mission, provided work space and arranged interviews and visits; UNDP Nepal provided technical and logistical support and China Institute for South-South Cooperation in Agriculture (CISSCA) assigned an expert on agriculture to design questionnaires, conduct interviews residents, and draft the needs assessment report.
The Chair of Khajura, Mr. Kismat Kumar Kakshapati, and the residents of Khajura warmly welcomed the mission and actively participated in the needs assessment process. Prior to the mission, 450 questionnaires were circulated among residents with the support of Khajura government. During the mission, interviews were conducted with the residents for which they were grouped based on their occupations with each group having at least 30 per cent women representation.
During the interviews, there were discussions around the key challenges that the residents encounter in their daily occupations and if they would consider cooperating for a proposed pilot project. The most reoccurring answers from the floor were about quality seeds, modern equipment and technology, proper irrigation system, effective fertilizer, insufficient manpower, skilled training, road and electricity infrastructures, and financing. One such story was shared by Ms. Krishna Kumari Pokhrel Biswakarma, a resident of Khajura, who had invested approximately USD 7,000 in a poultry farm for producing chicken meat and was even able to earn about USD 2,000 in the first year.
However, from the second year, she lost all her profits due to a bird flu that spread in her farm and she was unable to prevent it from spreading as she didn’t have access to necessary medicines or technology. She now hopes that the upcoming pilot project will help in the capacity development of agribusiness owners like herself.
Apart from interviews, the mission examined road construction sites, forest areas, parks, and a sports stadium; and visited vegetable farms, public schools, ward offices, an agricultural research institution, and several residents’ houses.
At the regional station of Natural Agricultural Resources Center, the mission noticed that there are green houses, poultry farms and orchards, electronic devices such as sensors, and modern digital technologies, such as distance learning and online business, that have potential to be more effectively utilized.
The needs assessment report, which was completed after the mission, identified key challenges such as: weak infrastructure (road connectivity, electricity, water irrigation), limited supply of public services, human resources and capacity. The mission concluded with selection of an operational model that will link companies with family groups chosen for the pilot project. Essentially, because these family groups already exist and they are ready to proceed for larger amount of products, especially in vegetable farming.
The Cities Project held further consultations with relevant partners and specialized agencies. WFP China Center of Excellence’s recent project in Yuxi city of Yunan Province with a similar focus on local farmers community capacity development and supply chain development has been identified to share their experience and expertise.
Currently, UNOSSC is in discussion with CISSCA, WFP, and UNDP Nepal, with an aim to formulate a pilot project between Yuxi and other cities in China and Khajura to transfer expertise and needed technologies in supporting the green agriculture development of Khajura, and to facilitate South-South knowledge transfers and mutual learning between local stakeholders.