Transforming land and livelihoods: Analysis of agriculture land abandonment in the mid hills of Nepal

Transforming land and livelihoods: Analysis of agriculture land abandonment in the mid hills of Nepal

wca2014-1943 Krishna P. Paudel 1,*Sujata Tamang 1krishna K. Shrestha 2Rachhya Shah 3 1ForestAction, Lalitpur, Nepal, 2University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, 3IUCN, Lalitpur, Nepal

Nepal continues to face exacerbating poverty, decreasing agricultural productivity and food insecurity. At a time when there is large scale land grabbing taking place with the purpose to intensify agriculture for food security globally and scholarly debate to increase the extent and intensity of land use for agriculture, the Mid-hills of Nepal seems to be witnessing the unprecedented degree of agriculture land abandonment in recent years. Therefore it is important to understand the extent, causes and consequences of land abandonment and its implication to food security and livelihoods. The aim of this paper is therefore to investigate the factors influencing the agriculture land abandonment in the middle-hills of Nepal. This study employs mixed method approach to data collection in 4 mid-hill districts of Nepal, using both household survey and key informant interview.


The results indicate that three key reasons relating to ecological, socio-economic and cultural factors are influencing agriculture land abandonment in Nepal. Firstly, the highly fragile agro-ecology additionally  affected by the unprecedented climate change, forcing many small holder and subsistence farmers either to change land use pattern or abandon their agriculture lands altogether. Secondly, traditional small scale subsistence agriculture in hills with its low return on labour and other investment is not economically competitive with commercial agriculture. Thirdly, farming is no longer viewed as a prestige or viable profession to maintain sustainable household economy. It is no longer a cool career that many young farmers aspire to pursue, forcing young villagers to urban areas and gulf countries, abandoning their farms. In conclusion, we highlight that the land abandonment presents some opportunities to bring the agro-forestry as the sustainable agro-ecological approach which can be successfully reintroduced to enhance an adaptive agricultural approach that can increase food security and livelihood options as well as addresses the climate change threats.

Vigyan Bhavan & Kempinski Ambience

10 - 14 February 2014 Delhi, India