Those who practice animal husbandry have no market
According to the World Food Organization, a person needs 91 liters of milk, 48 eggs and 14 kg of meat per year. Former Prime Minister KP Oli had declared Nepal self-sufficient in meat and eggs on March 25, 2021, saying that every Nepalese consumes 55 eggs and 22 kg of meat per year. But Nepalese poultry and fish farmers still have a long way to go when it comes to finding good markets and producing quality products. Pratik Ghimire ApEx spoke with Tulasi Prasad Paudel, a senior animal research scientist who is also the director of the government-run National Animal Science Research Institute (NASRI).
What are the main areas of work of the institution?
We are involved in farming and fishing. This institution monitors, coordinates and regulates the capacity building of farmers and other human resources. Likewise, we cooperate with governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as educational institutions. Our institute also invents various technologies and distributes them to farmers and agricultural contractors with additional residential training opportunities.
What are you currently working on?
NASRI develops new breeds of goats, cows and buffaloes. For example, crosses of wild bison and domestic bison have been shown to produce hardy breeds. We are conducting similar research on other animals.
Animal feed determines the quality and quantity of milk, which is why we develop affordable alternatives to regular feed. Feeding timing and heat stress also affect milk production. We are running a series of experiments to help animals and farmers on this front as well.
We develop animal medicines and vaccines. The severity of animal diseases varies according to parameters such as temperature, altitude, topography, type of food, etc. and therefore we cannot rely on imported drugs.
Are there enough funds for your research?
Developed countries allocate more than five percent of their total annual budget to agricultural and animal research; the minimum overall requirement is three percent of the total budget. Developing countries typically allocate one to two percent of their annual budget. But over the past three decades, the Nepalese government has saved a measly 0.2-0.3%, or just 6% of the minimum recommendation.
What is the extent of livestock farming in Nepal?
OK, I have to say. We still depend on imported milk and dairy products. The Nepalese market is full of international brands of powdered milk, cheese and butter. We are independent for chicken meat and eggs, but there are other types of meat and fish that we can work on.
Despite good reach, we lack market reach. If the government could increase the access of our local products to the main markets, our situation would improve considerably.
What do you offer people who want to get into professional farming?
The farms that are doing profitable business have all done good homework before getting started. They consulted experts, received training and relied on scientific research. I suggest the same to aspiring farmers and agricultural entrepreneurs.