Partnering with farmers to improve maize production and livelihoods in the hills of Nepal - Mexico, DF (Mexico) CIMMYT : 2010 - p. 606-611
Nepal is primarily an agrarian country: 88% of the population lives in the rural areas and 80% of the adult rural population is engaged in agriculture. The country is among the poorest in the world, with an annual per capita GDP of less than US$300. Maize is the most important food crop in the hills, where it is grown mainly by small-scale, resource-poor farmers. The crop is currently cultivated on approximately 0.87 m ha with an average yield of 2.09 t ha-1. About 78% of this is grown in the hills. The Hill Maize Research Project (HMRP) funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), has been working in partnership and participatory mode with the Government of Nepal and nongovernmental organizations with the aim of developing, identifying, validating and disseminating maize technologies for the benefit of poor farmers in the hills. The project balances basic and adaptive research and emphasizes gender equity and social inclusion, multiplying seed of varieties selected by farmers in participatory variety selection trials, community-based seed production and other participatory approaches. The project show that the amount of seed and the number of farmer groups engaged in seed production have increased. Quality seed of new, improved varieties alone can increase maize productivity by at least 20%. Farmers can obtain significant net profits by intercropping cash crops with maize. Sowing two maize plants per hill is better for vegetable intercropping and reducing women maize production. Farmers who adopted HMRP technologies have significantly improved their food security, with greater involvement of poor women and excluded groups. This paper discusses the participatory research methodologies that have been used to increase food security and improve the livelihoods of poor maize farmers in the hills of Nepal.