Forest Based Enterprises for Food Security and Poverty Alleviation: Implications for Community Forestry and Agroforestry Development in Nepal
Neupane R (2014) Forest Based Enterprises for Food Security and Poverty Alleviation: Implications for Community Forestry and Agroforestry Development in Nepal, In R. Mandal, S. Dhakal, and N. Hamal (eds), Proceeding of 6th Community Forestry Workshop, Lalitpur, Nepal, 16-18 June 2014, pp 336-350
Nepal’s population (27.4 million) continues to experience high levels of poverty (25% below poverty line) owing largely to lack of economic opportunities, access to resources, weak empowerment, difficult terrain and lack of access to infrastructure. In this context, micro enterprises development has been considered a strategy to provide food security, economic opportunities and alleviate poverty. Adopting a comprehensive business development services approach the micro-enterprise development program (MEDEP), has targeted the families living below the poverty line, socially excluded. dalits and janajatis. A package consisting of entrepreneurship development, followed by market study, skills development, micro-credit, access to appropriate technology and business counseling, linkages to market and sub-contracting system have been promoted. The government of Nepal has adopted the model as micro-enterprise development for poverty alleviation (MEDPA). This paper analyzes the role of agro and forest based enterprises in securing food security, improving livelihoods and alleviating poverty in terms of its implications to the community forestry and agroforestry development in the country. The analysis is based on the review of the past studies, secondary data and qualitative enquiries through interactions, focus group discussions with relevant stakeholders and direct observation in the field. The increase in per capita income was most impressive. It was found that nearly 20% of the total micro-entrepreneurs (66,000) are forest based while 55% are agro based. The composition of the entrepreneurs consisted of 69% women, 20% dalits, and 67% youth. The enterprise development is able to create 75,000 sustainable jobs. The findings revealed that 80% of enterprises continue to do business and an average micro-entrepreneur earns over twice than what was earned before starting the enterprise. Improvements were noted in change in food sufficiency, social empowerment as well as in physical, social and financial capitals. The findings reveal that entrepreneurs need more sophisticated business skills, scaling up, product improvement, access to finance support and better linkages to viable market chains. Integrated package of services (finance, technology, inputs, marketing and business development services) with appropriate platform for buy back arrangement enhancing backward and forward linkages with private sector are found to be essential elements of successful entrepreneurship development. Though, forest (bamboo, furniture, bio-briquette, allo, chiuri and lapsi) and agro based enterprises are able to obtain substantial income, create job and cause multiplier effect, they need to ensure the use of the resources in a more judicious manner for sustainability. It is more pertinent in view of the potential scaling up of such enterprises and moving up in the value-chain systems. Thus agro and forest based enterprises development has demonstrated as an alternative model of cost effective, inclusive and gender responsive intervention of increased food security, employment creation and livelihoods leading to poverty alleviation of the poor, socially excluded and marginal section of the population.