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Rooting sustainable entrepreneurship in Nepal

In Nepal, the EIF programme has been focusing on contributing to poverty reduction through the creation of jobs and sustainable trade development efforts. Its support to institutional capacity‑building goals has made an impact centred around a clear vision on the role of trade for the country's development and strong coordination with development partners and backed by a dynamic national team on the ground.


The widely known EIF-supported analytical trade studies, such as the 2015 Nepal Trade Integration Strategy (NTIS) and its previous version of 2010, convey the country's main trade and development vision and identify a number of priority sectors and are backed by the strong buy-in from line Ministries, including Agriculture and Industry, as well as the active support of Germany as EIF Donor Facilitator. Germany's role is key to keeping trade high on the development partners' agenda, engaging in capacity building, policy support and monitoring of trade activities.


Through well‑rooted institutions and structures, such as the cross-institutional EIF National Steering Committee and the Nepal Business Forum created as part of the NTIS recommendations, private sector and civil society have been brought on-board in support of the trade agenda. Projects supporting specific sectors like ginger have been developed and implemented in target areas with the participation of private sector associations and communities on the ground. This strong dialogue between all partners has helped to reflect needs raised by local cooperatives and incorporate the need to create better living standards through raising incomes and market opportunities. 


In Nepal, ginger is a major spice cash crop for small-holder farmers, with a high potential for export earnings. To support this vision, the EIF together with the Standards and Trade Development Facility (STDF) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) have been fostering synergies among the public and private sectors, local communities and cooperatives to improve the quality and the value‑added of ginger exports through helping to set up a washing and processing facility, based on sustainable water management protocols. The facility is expected to serve up to 4,000 ginger‑producing households in Eastern Nepal, 50% of which are headed by poor women, and to contribute to the targeted growth of 25% in ginger sales.


Unwashed ginger cannot be exported due to lack of compliance with required sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) standards, and yet, washing a large quantity of ginger for export requires a lot of water that is not sufficiently available in the mountain region where the ginger is produced. The joint EIF, STDF and FAO project has supported the construction of a centralized washing system with the participation of wider communities in the target areas, established in a plain region where extraction of water and management of drains is well justified economically, socially and environmentally. This involves extracting deep water to the surface, de‑sedimenting effluent, recycling desilted water and again recharging ground water.


Through the project, about 200 traders are set to benefit from the washing services, and 1,891 ginger farmers (of which approximately 60% are women) have been trained in good agricultural practices (GAP) of ginger production in 54 Farmers Field Schools (FFS). The facility is foreseen to create over 200 seasonal jobs, reduce marketing costs and post-harvest losses by 30% and improve prices available for the exported ginger/ginger products, thereby creating higher gross margins (up to 25%) for ginger farmers. Additionally, capacity building has been provided to the Nepal Ginger Producers and Traders' Association (NGPTA) to operate the facility, which has been handed over to the Association to ensure the sustainability of the project. Now farmers are organized in 54 producer groups, registered with the respective District Agriculture Development Offices (DADOs) in the Ministry of Agriculture and linked to the NGPTA, with active participation by the DADOs. These farmers and traders will use the facility against a financial contribution to the Nepalese Ginger Promotion Trust Fund instituted in the NGPTA to cover its operating costs.


Training materials on ginger have been developed, including the FFS manual, the cultivation handbook and the GAP-based Farmers' Record Book for ginger, accompanied by season‑long training sessions delivered by the DADOs through the FFS. Improved seed materials have been made available at the local level, use of biological pesticides has been promoted and a successful management of rhizome-rot problems has been initiated, which has restored an increased level of confidence in ginger farmers and traders to continue with the ginger businesses.


The Ministries of Commerce and Agriculture in the public sector as well as the Agro Enterprise Centre, the agricultural wing of the Federation of Nepalese Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the NGPTA in the private sector, form a strong partnership in the ginger project implementation. This partnership has the capacity to facilitate the continuation of project outcomes, especially for the poor beneficiaries, and further support infrastructure development, producers/traders' network‑building, technology generation/dissemination, post-harvest management and an improvement in product certification/traceability. Through the Ministry of Agricultural Development, the Facilities Management Committee has been established to complement the work of the Facilities Operation Committee established under the NGPTA and the Nepalese Ginger Promotion Trust Fund.


With this commitment and coordination, the EIF programme is helping to embed sustainable entrepreneurship in Nepal's ginger sector. Trade coordination around national priorities is also proving to be a model for consultative and broad-based engagement with stakeholders nationwide. As the ginger washing facility is now in operation, this provides the necessary investment to boost productivity, reaching villages in Eastern Nepal, with the NGPTA taking the lead to support ginger farmers, producers and traders in meeting stronger standards.