PRCI Helps to Set Policy Research Priorities for Food System Transformation in Nepal
PRCI organized a set of Policy Research Priority Setting workshops in June and September of 2021 in Nepal.
Policy Priorities for Evidence-based Agricultural Policies in Nepal
To inform a set of policy priorities and important challenges in the agriculture sector, the USAID funded Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy Research, Capacity and Influence (PRCI) and Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS) with support from Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, conducted a priority setting workshop on Policy Priorities for Evidence-based Agricultural Policies in Nepal. The virtual workshop was conducted on June 10, 2021 had stakeholder representation from the government, development agencies, private sector, research institutions, academia, associations, among others defined policy research needs and priorities in agriculture sector and broader food system.
The program was divided into three sessions—the first session included representatives from PRCI, USAID Nepal Mission, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD), IFPRI and National Planning Commission (NPC). During the second session, three representatives from MoALD, Nepal Rastra Bank, and Nepal Agriculture Research Council presented their paper on Government’s Agriculture Sector Priorities in Nepal which was followed by panel discussion; the panelists were representatives from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Nepal, Nepal Agricultural Economics Society, and Agriculture and Forestry University. The third session included presentations on Private Sector’s Agriculture Sector Priorities in Nepal by representatives from Agro Enterprise Center (Federation of Nepalese Chamber of Commerce), Shreenagar Agro Farms, and Central Bureau of Statistics. This was followed by panel discussion, the panelists were representatives from Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science, Tribhuvan University, Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market Development Board, and National Farmers Group Association Nepal. The session was concluded by representatives from IIDS and IFPRI.
The webinar identified new drivers and challenges for the agriculture sector in Nepal. It was discussed that the private sector as an engine of growth has moved rapidly in the last decade; however, in order to gain a strong trajectory, bottlenecks such as access to finance, inadequate logistics, storage and distribution, as well as access to technical skills and knowledge needs to be augmented. Further, with new policies and vision highlighted in the Agriculture Development Strategy 2015-2025, along with research and stakeholder engagement support from multilateral and bi-lateral agencies, rapid agriculture development seems attainable.
Technical and dissemination workshop
As a follow up to the policy priority setting workshop, PRCI organized a Technical Meeting On Identification Of Policy Gaps On Food System Transformation on September 13, 2021 in Nepal in collaboration with Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MOALD) and the Institute for Integrated Development Studies (IIDS). Key thematic focus areas from the June workshop were discussed in deeper consultations with technical experts to further refine priorities and address knowledge gaps.
Jason Seuc, Director, Economic Growth, from Nepal USAID mission attended the workshop and gave introductory remarks. He said, “Through the PRCI project, USAID is supporting the Nepal Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development for generating high quality evidence-based policy options and strengthening policy system capacity.”
More than 40 high level policy makers and technical experts from MOALD and other ministries, private sector, think tanks, private sector, and NGOs attended the workshop. The Secretary for Agriculture, Nepal, Dr. Govinda Prasad Shrestha in his opening remarks said, “Government of Nepal appreciates the support provided by the USAID in strengthening policy analysis capacity in the agricultural sector. We look forward to continued collaboration in modernizing Nepalese agriculture.”
In the first year of the project, PRCI – IL worked with IIDS to train young researchers and develop data-based analysis on trade patterns in agriculture in the context of COVID-19 pandemic. The PRCI-IIDS study team also presented results of a Trade Flow Analysis at this workshop. This study has been helpful in generating evidence for trade policy making as well as strengthening national trade policy analysis capacity and was appreciated by the policy makers as fundamental for trade policy decisions that affect food and nutrition security of Nepalese population.
The priority areas of discussion during the workshop included policy issues related to input marketing, production systems, domestic markets and trade policies, consumption patterns, nutrition and health. A broad conclusion of the workshop is that there are gross evidence gaps in designing policies and programs that can lead to food system transformation in Nepal. This is further exacerbated by severe data availability constraints. Investments are need for strengthening data collection and policy analysis capacity in the context of decentralized decision making. PRCI-IL will work with IIDS and MOALD to develop a comprehensive research support plan for the next five year and begin conducting policy research and analysis on priority challenges identified in this workshop.
With policy research priorities better defined, Nepal’s MOALD will now develop a policy research and capacity strengthening plan which will be further supported by PRCI-IIDS collaboration in Nepal. The broader aim of the PRCI-IL supported by USAID-FTF is to develop research and institutional capacity that enhances the ability of local policy research organizations in Asia and Africa to conduct high-quality food security policy research and influence food security policy more effectively while becoming increasingly self-reliant.