by Deepakar Rupakheti, Program Manager, Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Limited (NACCFL)
The outbreak of COVID-19 is threatening the whole world. In Nepal, COVID-19 was first confirmed to have spread on 24 January. Both lives and livelihood are at risk due to this pandemic. Nepal is an agrarian country, having 66 per cent of people directly engaged in agriculture.
The government has taken the initiative to control the pandemic through the nationwide lockdown and social distancing. Restaurants, hotels, and markets are closed in the urban areas. Due to this pandemic, farmers are not able to get their products to the market. They are forced to leave their vegetables in the field, whereas the people living in urban areas have no access to the vegetables due to lockdown. So, the agriculture sector is facing multiple challenges, and smallholder farmers involved in these sectors are badly affected, with significant economic ramifications for them.
In this context, Nepal Agriculture Cooperative Central Federation Limited (NACCFL), an umbrella organization of agricultural cooperatives, has been involved in the marketing of vegetables produced in the rural areas. Before this pandemic, NACCFL had three outlets which were selling only the non-perishable products (pulses, cereals, different flour, honey, butter, fruits etc…). Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, NACCFL has also initiated to market the vegetables. With the support of its member organizations, NACCFL has been selling fresh vegetable from 11 places of Kathmandu valley. Under the slogan «rural products in urban areas», NACCFL is working in the front line to market the vegetables, according to three procedural steps:
- Collection of demand from customers through email, direct call.
- Packaging as agro-produces as per the demand
- Home Delivery of agro-produces
Besides this, the mobile van is travelling to different locations within the Kathmandu valley to market the vegetables. Also, NACCFL is trying to promote C2C (cooperative to cooperative) business, even at the district level – the NACCFL network works at the central level, provincial level, district level and local level. That means that if one cooperative (say A) is processing rice, and another cooperative (say B) needs rice, NACCFL facilitates/links B with A.
Agriculture is the backbone of not only the rural economy but also the nation as a whole. Some of the immediate areas where NACCFL should focus on to support the smallholder farmers in the community are:
- Support for agro-input,
- Subsidy for Tool Provision,
- Subsidy for transportation
- Activating mobile apps and delivery mechanism
- Storage facilities
- Interest Subsidy on Agriculture loan
So, these sectors should be kept into high consideration to coop with the upcoming crisis and food security.