CSISA in Nepal

Cereal and pulse yields in Nepal fall well below the regional averages and present rates of increase won’t meet long-term domestic requirements. Factors that contribute to low staple crop performance in Nepal include scarce farm labor, poor knowledge of best agricultural management practices, lack of irrigation and mechanization and farmers’ inability to take risks and invest in new technologies. Also, innovative applied research has long been underfunded and research benefits have rarely reached farmers.

The CSISA project mainly works in five western Terai districts in Province 5 and the Sudurpashchim province. Its secondary working area is the other Feed the Future zone districts.

Nepal’s Mid and Far West development regions are most acutely affected by these constraints as these regions have the highest poverty and receive the lowest investment by the private sector. As a result, CSISA works in Nepal’s Terai plains and mid-hills, where the scope for improving farmers’ lives through agriculture is greatest.

The project works with partners who can help to rapidly and broadly increase the adoption of sustainable intensification technologies at scale. Its partners include Feed the Future’s KISAN project, government agencies, farmers’ groups, service providers, agro-dealers, seed enterprises and other private sector companies. The project’s interventions in Nepal include:

  1. The intensification and diversification of pulses (lentil and mung bean) and their adoption at scale
  2. Scaling up of cropping system-based approaches for sustainably intensifying wheat and minimizing terminal heat stress
  3. Facilitation of efficient and low-risk strategies for the precise and productive use of nutrients
  4. Establishing robust seed systems that ensure timely access to elite cultivars and hybrids
  5. Promoting scale-appropriate mechanization and irrigation
  6. Directly-sown rice (DSR) to address labor and energy constraints to precision rice establishment
  7. Deployment of better-bet agronomic messaging through input dealer networks and development partners
  8. Income-generating maize production in neglected hill and plateau ecologies
  9. Integrated weed management to facilitate sustainable intensification transitions in rice
  10. Coping with climate extremes in rice–wheat cropping systems

Earthquake Recovery Support Program (EQRSP)

EQRSP locations (click to enlarge)

EQRSP locations (click to enlarge)

The 2015 earthquake and subsequent aftershocks that struck Nepal had huge negative impacts on the country’s agriculture and food security. An estimated 8 million were affected by the earthquakes, with smallholders in hilly regions being most hard-hit.

In response to the devastation, USAID-Nepal funded a support program from June 2015 to September 2016 that was implemented by CSISA in close coordination with the Ministry of Agricultural Development. The program distributed 50,000 grain storage bags, 30 cocoons for community grain storage, 400 mini-tillers and other modern agriculture power tools (e.g., reapers, maize shellers, seeders), 800 sets (5 items in a set) of small agricultural hand tools and 20,000 posters on better-bet agronomic practices for rice and maize.

The districts that received support included Dolkha, Kavre, Khotang, Makwanpur, Nuwakot, Ramechap, Sindhupalchowk, and Solukhumbu.

CSISA Agronomy and Seed Systems Scaling in Nepal

CSISA-Scaling ran from 2014-2019 and had large-scale and durable impact in Nepal’s cereal-based agricultural food systems. The activity had significant impact in wheat, maize and pulse production systems in the Feed the Future zone. Among farmers adopting stress-tolerant varieties, improved seed, and implementing climate-smart and resilient farm management practices.

The activity’s main objectives were:

  1. Strengthening seed systems so farmers have timely access to improved, stress-tolerant varieties and hybrids for pulses, wheat and maize;
  2. Targeting geographic niches and identifying management practices that enable cropping system intensification through the inclusion of lentils and mung beans as new crops cultivable by resource-poor farmers;
  3. Recommending best management practices for wheat, including scale-appropriate mechanization technologies that help farmers plant early and avoid terminal heat while addressing rural labor bottlenecks;
  4. Facilitating market development for small-scale technologies that enable precise nutrient management; and
  5. Supporting the expansion of the private sector in the Feed the Future Zone of Influence in Nepal, including the availability of appropriate agricultural mechanization options, including spares parts, improved mechanic services, and expanding the number of machinery service providers to facilitate affordable access among farmers for mechanization technologies.

Key project achievements include:

  • Large-scale impact in Nepal’s Feed the Future Zone: The CSISA Agronomy and Seed Scaling project has had large-scale and durable impact in Nepal’s cereal-based agricultural food systems: 65,843 farmers have applied improved technologies and/or management practices as a result of project interventions on 30,811 hectares of crop land. Forty-percent – 26,403 people – of farmers applying improved technologies and resilience-enhancing management practices were women.
  • Expanding access to resilient crop management practices and stress tolerant seed: The project had significant impact in wheat, maize and pulse production systems in the Feed the Future Zone. Among farmers adopting stress-tolerant varieties, improved seed, and implementing climate-smart and resilient farm management practices, more than 45,223 were farmers grower who applied improved technologies in more than 21,175 ha of land. 10,576 maize farmers also applied improved technologies on 4,421 ha, while 8,003 farmers adopted mungbean as a new crop in Nepal and grew it on 2,122 ha of crop land. Another 3,910 farmers used climactically resilient production methods to grow lentil on 1,459 hectares.
  • Private-sector led development: The CSISA Agronomy and Seed Systems Scaling project supported numerous seed companies, agricultural input dealers, machinery manufacturers, importers and dealers, and machinery services providers to improve their business performance across the Feed the Future Zone.
  • Strategic trainings lead to impact: To achieve the above, 2,013 lead farmers, government collaborators, civil society organization representatives and private sector staff received enhanced training on seed systems, resilient varieties, better-bet agronomic practices for cereals and pulses, and appropriate agricultural mechanization business models. 20% of those trained were women.
  • Durable and long-lasting changes and improvements in farmer’s access resulted from this project: (a) improved, stress-tolerant varieties and hybrids for pulses, wheat and maize, (b) targeted and production of mung beans and pulses among resource-poor farmers, (c) climate-resilient enhancing and affordable wheat production technologies and practices, (d) viable options for more precise and efficient nutrient management, while (e) facilitating market development and value chains for scale-appropriate farm machineries that reduce labor-bottlenecks and assist women headed households in efficient farm management.

For the CSISA-Scaling final report, click here.


  • Evidence that Mung Beans Strengthen Nepal's Farm Systems

    Mung bean cleaning process at Poshan Food Product, in Butwal, Nepal. Photo credit: CSISA Archive 2020 A long-term study by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) shows that mung beans, a month-long leguminous crop commonly known as green gram, strengthen rice-wheat farming systems and livelihoods in Nepal. According to Narayan Khanal, a researcher who works with the Cereal Systems Initiatives for South Asia (CSISA), growing evidence indicates mung beans planted between rice and wheat rotations improves soil fertility and rice productivity by as much as 25 percent. Rice-wheat rotation is the ...

  • Online news portal features DSR promotion by CSISA in Nepal

    An online news portal in Nepal issued a short article about direct-seeded rice (DSR) promoted by CSISA in Kailali District, Sudurpashchim Province in Nepal. The article highlights the introduction of DSR six years back by CSISA and how it has expanded throughout the district. Khagendra Sharma, Spokesperson of Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture & Cooperative of Sudurpaschim Province, mentions that DSR is more profitable than conventional rice farming, hence farmers are attracted to this technology as it reduces labor and fuel. Read the full article in Nepali here.

  • New policy brief highlights opportunities to promote balanced nutrient management in South Asia

    Dr. Yubak Dhoj GC, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, Nepal, introducing the ‘Development of Balanced Nutrient Management Innovations in South Asia’ workshop implemented by the USAID/Washington supported Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) and USAID/Nepal supported Nepal Seed and Fertilizer (NSAF) projects. Over the last few decades, deteriorating soil fertility has been linked to decreasing agricultural yields in South Asia, a region marked by inequities in food and nutritional security. As the demand for fertilizers grow, researchers are working with government and business to promote balanced nutrient management and the appropriate ...

  • Traveling Seminar on Scale-Appropriate Machinery Brings Together Delegates from across Asia

    Seminar delegates observing combine harvesters with farmers in Rupandehi, Nepal. Photo: V. Dakshinamurthy/CIMMYT CSISA in Nepal organized a three-day traveling seminar on “Scale-appropriate machinery for cereal crop harvesting in South Asia” on March 25–29, 2019. In Nepal, the adoption of agricultural mechanization has increased slowly over time. While small, regional markets for combine harvesters have existed in Nepal for the last 20 years, the major rise in sales has occurred in the last 10 years, both for combines and, more recently, for two-wheel tractor-based reaper-harvesters. Farmers have used machinery to cope with labor shortages and increasing wage rates. ...

  • Stempedia Model: Fighting Blight in Lentil

    Scientists, in collaboration with CSISA, help farmers practice integrated disease management with the help of the weather-based Stempedia model. Stemphylium blight is one of the most damaging diseases that plagues lentil fields in South Asia, causing plants to shed leaves and loose twigs, ultimately leading to grain loss. In severe cases, yield losses as high as 90% have been reported in Bangladesh and other countries. Lentil production is an integral part of many nutrition-sensitive farming systems in the region, so Stemphylium blight is a threat to smallholder farmers’ livelihoods in Bangladesh, ...

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