SWOT Analysis of Organic Agriculture in Nepal
Organic Agriculture is a very common word in Nepali agriculture sector. It is an integrated farming system that strives for sustainability the enhancement of soil and biological diversity while, with more expectations, prohibiting synthetic pesticides, antibiotics, synthetic fertilizers, genetically modified organism and growth hormones. Organic agriculture claims to have the potential to provide benefits in terms of environmental protection, conservation of non-renewable resources, improved food quality, reduction in output of surplus products and the re-orientation of agriculture towards area of market demand. Since the consumption of organic food products is the best remedy to prevent the numerous health hazards caused by conventionally produced food, increasing awareness about environment the demand for agriculture produce is being increasing globally.
Organic Agriculture is being practiced in Nepal from past. Over a century, traditionally farmers in hills and mountains are following the farming practices, which is similar to organic farming. Many of the farmers in hills and mountains have no idea that their traditional farming practices is called organic agriculture because of the lengthy certification process. The product produced by them through organic means don’t get recognition as organic products. The traditional farming knowledge and skill give the positive points for promoting the organic agriculture in Nepal. Great possibility of organic farming exits because many are still in organic in Nature and yet to be not reached the modern technologies and chemical fertilizer for example: Jumla is already announced organic district by the government, as chemical fertilizer and pesticides are yet to be not reached.
Organic Agriculture was first appeared as one of the priority sector in Nepalese agriculture since the 10th five years plan (2059/60 -2063/64).Bur nowadays various institution, individuals and farmers are emergently engaging in this yield. INSAN stared an organized effort to promote organic farming in Nepal followed by Judith Chase who started organic farming in Bhaktapur in 1987.Nepal Permaculture Group, a national network working in the field of sustainable agriculture has been an instrumental in promoting Organic Agriculture in Nepal through advocacy, lobbing, training, organizing workshops and seminars helping farmers and policy makers. It has been reported that the total land under organic management in Nepal is estimated to be 9789 ha which is 0.23% of the total agricultural land. There are 1470 organic producers and 25 private companies merchandizing them in national as well as international market.
SWOT stand for Strength, Weakness, Opportunities and Threats and so a SWOT analysis is a technique for assessing these four aspect of our business. Usually with the SWOT analysis, both the helpful and harmful factors that originated from both internal and external factors of organic agriculture were examined are:
Strengths of Organic Agriculture:
- Organic production is feasible virtually throughout the country, without major adjustments to traditional production methods.
- Most of the areas of hills and mountains are default organic due to which we can get more profit by producing and growing organic vegetables, fruits promoting agro-tourism.
- Direct market linkage with India could be other strength.
- Commercial production under such private initiator could not be very difficult as these initiators have awareness and knowledge of organic farming.
- Market development, gradually increasing consumers awareness about health and quality along with preference towards quality food products and could provide better return to the producers.
- Comparative advantage in organic food production.
- Low cost of production.
- High quality and improved nutrition.
- Healthier and fresher vegetables and fruits can be produced.
- Improved soil health.
- Environment sustainability.
- Government polices like NPOP.
- Preserves traditional varieties /species and high shelf life
- Availability of skill manpower
Weakness of Organic Agriculture :
- Productivity gaps.
- Unestablished market.
- Poor quality management in production and processing.
- Less incentives from government.
- Low research and development investments on organic farming research.
- Organic market buyers/consumers driven market.
- Irrelevant government strategy for development of organic market.
- Disjointed producers, processors, and traders.
- Adulteration and poor quality of organic inputs.
- Intensive in nature and high labor costs.
- No proper distribution channel.
- Organic products are costlier than conventional products.
- Complicated certification process.
- Longer production cycle and slow production turnover.
Opportunities of Organic Agriculture :
- Some specialized markets have started organic products and some are willing to start selling organic products.
- There is immense scope for the organic products to be delivered to India and other countries.
- Growing awareness among the educated circle and increasing purchasing power.
- 70 % of GCA is under rainfed agriculture
- Reduces heavy subsidies on food and fertilizers.
- Control the nitrate loss and carbon dioxide loss
- Ecotourism is increasingly becoming popular and organic farms could turn into favorite spots
- Provide employment opportunities to poor farmers and women especially of remote areas.
- Utilization of time and space.
- Establishing agro-tourism and decorative agriculture at different homestays promotes agro-tourism and fresh organic foods can be served to the tourists which also helps to flourish organic agriculture in Nepal.
Threats of Organic Agriculture:
- Competition from other countries with similar advantages especially India.
- Nepalese political situation is also one of the major threats in putting debar to the organic movement.
- High cost of organic food.
- Costly and complex organic certification process.
- Unavailability of infrastructure facilities (like labs) and certification bodies.
- Only export regulated organic market.
- Low awareness about organic inputs.
- Most of the field are contiguous and problem of contamination.
- Introduction of stem crops.
- Inclement weather conditions.
- Threats from substitutes and new entrants.
- Bad publicity from social networking sites.
- Legislation and policy changes.
- Most of the Nepalese are poor and cannot buy expensive organic products which decrease the scope of organic farming.
- No proper agencies to provide guidelines of organic farming that decreases the export of organic products to the international markets.
About the Author:
Saroj Pandit; B.Sc. Ag
Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science