Adapting the Agriculture Development Strategy to the Federal System in Nepal: ADS Orientation and Planning Workshop

The Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS 2015-2035) is the major initiative of the government of Nepal to transform the agriculture sector into a competitive, sustainable and inclusive sector that brings economic growth, improved livelihoods, job creation and provides food and nutrition security. The ADS presents the overall guiding strategies for agriculture development in Nepal including a rationale based on the assessment of current and past performance of agriculture sector. With this prospective vision in the background, The European Union has provided budgetary and technical cooperation support to Contribute to Agriculture and Rural Development (CARD) in Nepal. The Technical Cooperation Facility (TCF) to the Agriculture Development Strategy (ADS) is being implemented by DT Global in cooperation with CEAPRED and Agro Enterprise Centre (AEC). The CARD is expected to support Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) in implementing the ADS through policy dialogue, budget support and capacity building measures.

It should be noted that Nepal had unitary governance system when ADS was formulated. The country has adopted federal system of governance after the promulgation of new Constitution of Nepal creating Seven Provinces and 753 municipalities. Considering the constitutional provisions as well as the mandate of National ADS Implementation Committee (NADSIC) it is crucial to adjust the ADS programs and institutional structure as per the federal structure of Nepal. In this context, the TCF to the ADS organized a three-day workshop from 13-15 November 2019 at Dhulikhel, Kavre with the aim to critically reflect the ADS Targets and Indicators, ADS Implementation Action Plan, and discuss the ways on orientating and adapting ADS into the Federal Governance Structure of Nepal.

 

A total of 87 participants attended the workshop including 13 female. Among the total participants, 47 were from different provinces representing Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative (MoLMAC) and related agencies. Other participants were from the MoALD, other federal level agencies, development partners and EU ADS TCF team including partners. The workshop sessions included presentations, group exercises and interactive sessions.

 

1 Workshop participants

Team Leader Dr David Kahan provided a quick overview of EU Technical Cooperation Facility to the Agriculture Development Strategy. He elaborated that TCF has adopted twin-track approach: (i) Broad communications and planning support to all municipalities; and (ii) Selecting a small number of municipalities, as pilot sites in each of the provinces, to demonstrate the appropriateness of interventions targeted to the local level. Dr Yubak Dhoj GC, Secretary, MoALD reiterated the importance of ADS in transformation of agriculture sector in Nepal. In order to roll out the ADS at all levels of government, firstly its adoption is crucial. Similarly, planning by aligning the vision and actions set forth in ADS helps rolling out the ADS. The TCF could play important role in this regards. Dr GC expressed the hope that this workshop will guide provincial planning teams to prepare annual plans in line with the ADS Action Plan for implementation.

 

2 Secretary, MOALD Dr Yubak Dhoj GC delivering his remarks

The workshop proceeded with an overview of ADS, the coordination mechanisms and the implementation progress presented by Mr. Sujan Dhungel, chief of ADS Coordination Section (ADSCS) at MOALD. There has been considerable progress in formulating necessary policies and acts as provisioned in the ADS, for example, Food and Nutrition Security Plan of Action. Likewise, progress has been made in setting up institutional structures such as National Farmers’ Commission, ADS JSR Mechanism, TCF to ADS and others. Mr. Sujan highlighted slow progress in many indicators due to the confusion created by changes in governance structure, lack of coordination among tiers and unclear linkages and coordination among stakeholders.

 

Dr David Kahan highlighted that one of the key issues directly related to ADS implementation is that the new constitution of Nepal does not explicitly specify the formal linkages between the three tiers of government. Effective implementation of ADS at the local level will require effective coordination and linkages among the agricultural development programmes and activities of all three tiers. The key challenge is how to make linkages work, and what measures or mechanisms will help improve the linkages within and across the different tiers of governments. Further, constraining the progress is the lack of awareness and knowledge of ADS at both provincial and municipality level where actual implementation of ADS is expected to take place.

 

Dr Ram Bastakoti expressed the view that the transition in governance structure has clear implications for the planning of agriculture development activities in Nepal. The authority and autonomy for these activities are devolved to the seven provincial governments and local governments. The local bodies are led by elected rather than appointed executives, ideally who will be able to determine their own policy priorities. It is a chance for agriculture development planning to be more locally relevant and more responsive to local needs. All three tiers of government are involved in agricultural development planning, primarily formulating the annual program/activities for the agriculture and livestock sector, but without any formal consultation with the other levels. Local and provincial governments lack systematic planning process. Agricultural planning at municipal level seems primarily guided by the interest of local politicians than the actual needs of local communities.

 

One of the aim of this workshop was to review and discuss how the ADS indicators and targets can be adapted to provincial level. Dividing participants from each province as separate group the group exercise focused on to: assess interlinkages across indicators; assess suitability of indicators; discuss to what extent each province could contribute to each indicator; suggest any changes, whether to add/drop indicators - specify impact, outcome and output indicators; identify baseline figures for each province based on available database, assessment reports and other available information; and estimate the targets for medium and long-term using the rate of change considered in the ADS document. Group presentations showed that not all provinces covered all the indicators as included in ADS. Some of the indicators particularly related to competitiveness were included by only few provinces, whereas others found it not suitable. Likewise, some province included new indicators as well. Provincial presentations clearly indicated confusions around use of baseline value, source of data and methodology to calculate the target.

 

Dr Badri Bastakoti presented the processes and criteria for Value Chain identification and prioritization at the provincial level. Identification and prioritization of value chain commodities is important for ADS as it has accorded top priority for value chain development of prioritised agricultural commodities under its one of the flagship programs - Value Chain Development Program. Value chain development forms an integral part of the four pillars of the strategic framework of the ADS-   profitable commercialization. Provincial participants used multi-criteria analysis matrix for VC prioritization through group exercise. The exercise aimed to identify and prioritise the value chain commodity in each provinces by making the representation of each agro-ecological zones and sector within the agriculture (e.g. cereal, livestock, and fisheries).

 

The workshop further, primarily through group exercise, reviewed ADS Implementation Action Plan and discussed how provincial annual plan can be aligned with the Action Plan. The group discussion focused on: mapping of current annual plan with ADS implementation action plan; and discuss ways to align with ADS action plan while preparing Annual Plan for next year. The participants referred to the prioritized VCs and the Provincial Periodic Plan and Approach Paper wherever applicable. Group presentations showed that most of the provinces included only few activities under outcome 1 improved governance. Likewise, only few activities were presented under outcome 4 increased competitiveness as well. Many of them revealed that they did not prepare annual workplan considering ADS framework. However, they realized that most of the activities could be mapped with ADS Implementation Action Plan.

 

The workshop highlighted a range of strategic follow-up actions with the technical backstopping support from the TCF to the provincial planning team for these activities.

·         Organise a series of ADS orientation workshops for municipal mayors and administrative officers – in all municipalities

·         Organise planning/ M&E training program for municipality planning/ agriculture staffs.

·         Select priority municipalities as pilot sites (approx. 3 per province) for intensive planning, M&E capacity building and implementation

 

The workshop also agreed the need of: (i) Developing coordination mechanism among three tiers of government to facilitate technical linkages; and (ii) Developing the plan  to collect the data.  Participants expressed the view that the workshop was very useful in facilitating the planning aligned with ADS. The provincial participants assured that they will cooperate and work in collaboration in future activities related to planning, monitoring and evaluation.