We can certainly say that agriculture is the backbone of national economy in the sense it is means of livelihood for majority of population, main source of GDP, income and employment opportunity in Nepal. According to data of MOF 2011 and NLFS 2008, our agriculture contributes about 34.7% to national GDP and provides part and full-time employment opportunity to 73.9% of the population.
If we look agriculture scenario of our country, rice based and maize based cropping system are dominant in Terai and Hills respectively with Cattle, buffaloes, goats, and poultry being the major livestock of Nepal.
Area and production of cereal crops in Nepal (2010/2011)
This table shows how paddy dominated other crops in our nation which is the result of traditional method of farming system. One of another major problem of this is that small land holding capacity by the people of our country. Let’s see the land holding capacity:
|No of holding||Area of holding||Average holding size(ha)||Average no of parcel/holding||Average size of parcel(ha)|
The average land holding per family across Nepal is found to be less than 0.8 hectare. Because of small land size, unavailability of the other employment opportunities in the country, majority of farmers in the country are compelled to adopt subsistence agriculture. Due to low investment capacity and lack of infrastructure & market opportunities majority of farmers are adopting traditional technology in their production system. Due to unavailability of attractive employment opportunity in the country, the majority of young people are going abroad (mainly in Gulf and Malaysia) in search of jobs. In the first eight months of F Y 2010/11, about 0.21 million youth formally went to various countries (mainly Malaysia and Gulf) to work as labour with formal approval of government. The trend of young people leaving Nepal for foreign employment is increasing every year. The number of people visiting abroad through unauthorized means taking undue advantage of open border with India is assumed to remain at large. Hence agriculture has become job of old people and that of women farmers in the village. So, in this context there is urgent need of appropriate agricultural mechanization in Nepal.
Importance of mechanization in agriculture:
- Timeliness of operation
- Precision of operation
- Improvement in the work environment
- Enhancement of safety by a reduction in drudgery of labour
- Reduction in loss of crops and food products
- Increased productivity of land
- Increased returns of the framer & improved living standards
- Improved dignity of farmer
- Effective utilization of farm resources & inputs
- Improvement in the living standard of the farmer
- Progress and prosperity in rural areas
The technological improvements in agriculture are the burning need in our society which may lead us to the revolutionary changes in the field of quality agriculture production. At present we are facing a food shortage and our country is one of the large importers of crops from India. Though India has jumped far ahead in the field of farm mechanization Nepal lacks far behind in the same sector depending largely on India and China for the farm inputs . Nepal has never focused on producing the frams machines on its own being only one machine factotry(birjung aujar karkhana) remaining closed for a decades.
Farm mechanization is the most important factor to bring about the significant improvement in agricultural productivity. Thus, there is a strong need for mechanization of agricultural operations. There are many factors that justify the strengthening of farm mechanization in our country. The timeliness of operations has assumed greater significance in obtaining optimal yields from different crops which have been possible by way of mechanization. (This example is extracted from the annual report of NARC 2011/12 ) For instance, evaluation of rice transplanter was conducted at khumaltar and farmer field of Trisuli. The field capacity of rice trans-planter was found to be 0.225 hectares per hour. The manual rice transplantation (including seedling uprooting) requires 14.5 labour man-days. Similarly, the crop yield (Khumaltar 4 variety) of machine transplantation plot was 8.36t/ha in comparison with 7.15 t/ha. The increased yield of rice by machine transplanted plot is mainly due to the uniform placement of seedling because of higher no. of tiller per hill (19.4) in machine transplanted plot than (12.75) in the manual transplanted plot. In addition, the farmer also realized that it is easier to harvest the machine transplanted plot than that traditional method. This is also correct in case of other crops too. Similarly, other farm operations like hoeing, irrigation, harvesting, threshing and marketing need to be performed by sophisticated farm equipment for the high yield and good farm income.
Farm power availability in Nepal:
Animate power is the main source of power, in Nepalese agriculture. Human power and animal power occupies 36 and 41 percent of the total farm power available in the country respectively. The available mechanical power in the country is only 23 percent. Most of the mechanical power is concentrated in Terai, the share of available mechanical power in Terai is 92.28% that of total available mechanical power of Nepal (FBC, 2006) leaving the hills and high hills far backward in mechanization .
Traditional farm tools and equipment are still found to be widely used in Terai. Spade, hoe, sickle etc. are major hand tools used. Animal drawn traditional power as well as improved implements are found to be used in agricultural operations in Terai. Traditional wooden plough, iron mold board plough, disc harrow, wooden plank etc, are major animal drawn implements. More than 51 percent of holding in terai own and use animal drawn iron plough due to increased field efficiency than traditional plough and easy availability in border towns. Animal power is also widely used for threshing through tramping action. Similarly bullock carts with traditional type (wooden wheel) as well as improved type (rubber tyre wheel) is also common in Terai, as 12 % of the holdings own bullock cart in terai.
The zero tillage and minimum tillage technologies has been tested and validated by NARC and it is found to be preferred by the farmers in terai and the valleys. Major constraint is found to be te availability of machinery and governments support in promoting these beneficial implements. Diesel pumpsets are also found to be commonly used for pumping water in Terai. 4-wheel tractor as well 2-wheel power tiller is increasingly used for tillage and transportation. Use of thresher is also increasingly used for threshing operation. It is reported that labour is getting scarce during peak agricultural periods ( transplanting and at harvesting rice) and their wage is increasing. From time to time, farmers are complaining on increased cost of production and reduction/unexpected fluctuation of price of certain commodities like rice, wheat, maize etc.
uld need work smartly in agriculture too which is only possible bringing mechanization in modern agriculture.
Rate of human chemical energy expenditure in various agricultural tasks
|S.no||Sex||Activity||Energy expenditure in Kcal||Energy expenditure in joules/sbu|
|5||Male||Mowing with scythe||6.8||474|
|6||male||Loading bundled crop on cart||4.8||335|
|7||Female||Throwing sheaves with threshing machine||5.5||384|
Status of Agricultural Mechanization in Nepal:
- In Nepal, as Animate power is dominant majority of tillage is done by animal power.
- Only 26% of farmers use iron plough.
- In Nepal about 8% farmers use tractor and 18% of it is in Terai region.
- Most of the farmers started to use cultivator for tillage implements and so custom hiring of tractors is common.
- Power tiller is getting so much popular.
Let’s see the operation wise draft and power requirements for some general use tillage implements:
|Tillage implements||Draft and power requirement|
|Disc harrow||60-190 kg/m|
|Disc tiller||220-520 kg/m|
|Duch foot cultivator||130-240 kg/m|
|Extreme up to plough||1260.4 kg|
|Heavy plough||630-845 kg|
|Light plough||140-350 kg|
|Medium plough||350-630 kg|
- Rice is manually transplanted here. Yet the concept of rice-transplanter mechanization has not came in our country al like in Europe.
- Wheat is broadcasted.
- Maize and vegetables seed is dibbled.
- More than 64% planting/seeding is performed by women.
- Zero till drill and minimum till drill is promoted by NARC and DOA.
LET’S see the sowing and harvesting periods, seed rates and properties of seeds of some crops used in Nepal:
|Crops||Sowing period||Row spacing (cm)||Seed rate (kg/ha)||Density (kg/m3)||Angle of repose (degree)||Harvesting period|
|Paddy||May-july||20*15 or 15*15||25-30.0||768||36||November-december|
- Rice, potato, maize and vegetables need major inter-cultural operation.
- Khurpi, sickles, kuto etc. are used for small operation.
- Bullock drawn local plough is also used for maize inter-culture.
- More than 60% of inter-cultural operation is done by women.
- 42% of total area is irrigated and 18% year around.
- Only 242000 ha is irrigated by ground-water in which 208746 is through STW and 33732 ha by deep tube well.
- 14% in terai region use centrifugal pump mainly for shallow tube well.
- More than 100000 treadle pumps in Terai.
- Simple low cost drip system and sprinkler irrigation is being used for vegetable cultivation.
- Harvesting is generally done manually performed by using locally made sickles.
- Serrated sickles locally made is also popular.
- 9 combine harvesters are in operation in kapilbastu, Nawalparashi, Rupandehi.
- 4 wheel tractor operated reapers are also getting popular.
- Somewhere in Nepal threshing is done by beating on stone/drum.
- Now mostly animal/tractor treading is used.
- More than 15 percent in terai use Thresher for threshing.
- Generally the processing is done manually and mechanically.
- Majority of cereals crop processing operation is mechanized.
- Sheller, Huller, grinding mill, oil expeller, beaten rice mill is common for processing.
- But there is highly needs of appropriate technology in processing of perishables/cash crops.
Let’s see provincial agriculture commodity supply status of Nepal:
|Major agriculture commodity||Province 1||Province 2||Province 3||Province 4||Province 5||Province 6||Province 7||Net balance in country|
|Rice||Sufficient||Sufficient||Deficit||Deficit||Surplus||Highly deficit||Sufficient||Slightly deficit|
|Wheat||Slightly deficit||Surplus||Highly deficit||Deficit||Surplus||Highly deficit||Sufficient||Sufficient|
|Pulse crop||Deficit||surplus||Highly deficit||Slightly deficit||Surplus||Deficit||Sufficient||Deficit|
|Oilseed crops||Deficit||Deficit||Highly deficit||Deficit||Sufficient||Deficit||Deficit||Highly deficit|
|Mango||Deficit||Seasonal surplus||Deficit||Deficit||Seasonal sufficient||Deficit||Deficit||Deficit|
|Banana||Deficit||Deficit||Deficit||Deficit||Seasonal surplus||Deficit||Seasonal surplus||Deficit|
|Apple||Deficit||No production||Deficit||Deficit||Deficit||Seasonal surplus||Deficit||Deficit|
|Onion||Deficit||Seasonal surplus||Deficit||Deficit||Seasonal surplus||Deficit||Deficit||Deficit|
|Tea||Highly surplus||No production||Deficit||Deficit||No production||No production||No production||Deficit|
|Cardamom||Highly surplus||No production||Deficit||Deficit||Deficit||Deficit||Deficit||Surplus|
Source: Agriculture statistics book,MOD,2017
Sufficient: Need not to import and not enough for export
Surplus: Enough production for export also
Deficit: Need to import, not enough production
Policy related to agriculture mechanization:
- Majority of policy made by government related to mechanization are still neutral.
- Agricultural policy –commercialization of agricultural commodities.
- Energy policy
- (CIVIL CODE) 2020- Causes land fragmentation
- Land Reform Policy-Yet to be implemented.
- Low Duty on imported agricultural machinery.
- No policy to establish agril machinery industry.
- No focus on research and development of agril machinery.
- Lack of policy on testing agricultural machinery.
Issues and constraints related to agricultural mechanization:
- Small and fragmented land holding with subsistence level of agriculture is the major constraints for promotion of agricultural mechanization in the country.
- Since, women farmer has got dominant role in crop production activities (except tillage and marketing) their contribution is rarely recognized and their drudgery problem is not addressed.
- The lack of access road & electricity distribution lines in the farm; near by market facilities, repair and maintenance workshops facilities etc. are the few infrastructure related constraints for mechanization and commercialization of agriculture in Nepal.
- Even though, there is extension of credit institutions in Nepal, the interest rates are found to be more in rural sector than in urban sector (viz. housing loan, car loans etc.). Many co-operatives and micro credit institutions have been evolved in the villages, but they need awareness on co-operative farming for intensification and commercialization of agriculture with appropriate mechanization.
- As the farm holding size socio-economic background of Nepal is diverse and is mainly dominated by small farmers and poor farmers, the mechanization need to be focused on appropriate mechanization technologies addressing the needs of different category of farmers and at different agro ecological zone and cropping system.
- The major technological constraints in farmer’s perspective are difficulty in availability of spare parts, lack of training on operation and maintenance of farm machinery, inadequate facility for servicing and repair of farm machinery. Moreover the cost of spare parts is also reported to be high.
- The blacksmiths are the deprived group in the community and their indigenous skill and technology is at the verge of extinction from the community, due to lack of commercialization and modernization of their skills as well as lack of recognition of their contribution by the community and the state.
- Custom hiring of farm machinery (tractor, power tiller, combine harvestor, thresher, sprayer etc.) is taking place in an informal way in each village without any support from government.
- Due to lack of clear-cut policy on agricultural mechanization, the agricultural mechanization is not found to be streamlined as per the need of the farming communities and national development goals on commercialization of agriculture in Nepal.
- Even though the progressive farmers in the hills and terai are in search of appropriate agricultural tools and machinery, but they fail to get in the local markets. Farmers of terai are in search of rice transplanter, tractor drawn seeding equipments for bold grain crops (maize, rajma, chick pea etc.), power weeders, efficient multi crop threshers, small scale processing equipments etc. Similarly the progressive farmers in the hills are in search of efficient animal drawn implements, single yoke harnessing system, efficient hand tools, small mechanical power tillage technology in the hills and small fruit and vegetable processing equipments. R & D system in Nepal could not respond effectively to meet their demand for adaptation and development of appropriate equipments to meet their demand.
- Agricultural Engineering Division (AED) and Agricultural Implement Research Center (AIRC) under NARC and directorate of Agricultural Engineering under Department of Agriculture are to be strengthened for effective R & D and the promotion of appropriate mechanization in Nepal.
- For the sustainable development of agricultural mechanization in Nepal, it is needed to locally fabricate widely used agricultural tools, implements and machinery. However, the prevailing policy does not favor production of agricultural machinery locally (high custom duty of raw materials, no support in promotion, irregular power supply, high electricity cost, poor research & testing support etc.). Hence there is need of reform in policy and program to encourage and support local fabricators to fabricate/ manufacture agricultural machinery locally.
- There is need of testing and standardization of agricultural machinery to reduce the accidents related to agricultural machinery and to provide quality standard agricultural machinery to the Nepalese farmers
Through appropriate agricultural mechanization, the Nepalese agriculture could be more competitive, sustainable and commercialized by enhancing productivity and profitability.There is urgent need of good and sustainable mechanization in the country to bring down the cost of cultivation, address the labour shortage in village, support intensification and commercialization in agriculture for the food security as well as for enhancing the socio-economic condition of farmers in the country. Through the collaborative efforts of government, private and cooperative sector, agricultural mechanization service and enterprise will be enhanced and accessibility of appropriate agricultural machine will be enhanced.
- NARC REPORT
- Farm machinery design by DN Sharma
- Report of ministry of Agriculture, land management and cooperative
- photo source ;Google
Agriculture Engineering student