Economic Growth for Social Justice: supporting NTFP trade and business development in Karnali | Mission East

Economic Growth for Social Justice: supporting NTFP trade and business development in Karnali

Project Status: 

Project Aims: 

The overall objective is to contribute to poverty reduction of remote Karnali regions through sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The specific objective is to promote sustainable, efficient and equitable exploitation of high value Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP) in Humla, Mugu and Jumla districts of Karnali region.

By promoting sustainable and equitable exploitation of 7 high value NTFP products (medicinal and aromatic plants) in the Karnali region, the project will address the issues of economic empowerment of marginalised communities from mountainous regions of Nepal for sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The selected NTFP products fall into the priority list for export potential of the Nepal Trade Integration Strategy (NTIS) 2010, in a sector that is already identified as profitable business but which is currently not inclusive and equitable enough for the marginalised and poverty stricken communities that participate in the value chain process, especially for the population of the Karnali region.


Project Background:

In Nepal the majority of the population of the high altitude areas in the Himalayas depends on subsistence agriculture and natural resources for its livelihood. About 90% of the farmers in mountainous areas rely on marginal and small land holdings, where they typically cultivate less than one hectare per household. In the mid-western region, the five districts in the Karnali zone, Humla, Jumla, Mugu, Dolpa and Kalikot, are some of the most remote areas with the lowest “Human Development Index” (HDI) in Nepal. Population has a low literacy rate, poor economic and health conditions, very limited access to services, lacks basic infrastructures, limited arable land and suffers from low agricultural productivity. However the great diversity afforded by high mountain conditions (biodiversity, climates, topography, culture) provides a comparative advantage for these areas to produce a variety of niche products for their own and lowland consumption and also for economic growth of the area via trade and business development.

To supplement the low agricultural production in the remote and mountainous districts of Nepal, the government of Nepal has given due consideration to Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs) as an effective means to enhance the economic benefits to rural people and to help in improving livelihood, household food security and nutrition. NTFPs, both wild edible and medicinal plants, while contributing to the local economy, are also one of the categories of resources that have a potential for improving natural resource management, leading to conservation of the ecosystem and biodiversity of the specific area.

Nevertheless the NTFP subsector is facing various hurdles to develop into a mature subsector in Nepal, which include: (i) sustainable harvesting is difficult to promote in public forests and highlands, as control is limited and these areas function more like common properties, leading to premature and over-harvesting resulting in depletion of resources; (ii) several conservation policies implemented by the Ministry of Forestry and Soil Conservation (MOFSC), which have pushed large part of the trade into the illegal sphere; (iii) smuggling, corruption and multiple taxation cause considerable trouble in this sector; and (iv) Nepal has mainly been supplying India trade centers and has not yet managed to establish its own linkages with other importing countries.

Project Action:

The proposed project will contribute to poverty reduction and social justice by increasing business and trade opportunities for marginalised communities in the comparatively poorer mountain areas of Karnali (Humla, Jumla and Mugu districts) through the improvement of NTFP production, trade and business, with a special emphasis given to the inclusion of the most vulnerable, marginalised and excluded groups such as women, Dalits and people with disabilities.

To achieve its objectives the project will carry out activities such as: trainings on entrepreneurship development, support participatory identification and prioritization of enterprise development opportunities, provide enterprise planning and development services. Training to 30 CFUGs for enterprise-oriented, sustainable exploitation of forest via updated Forest Management Plan; training to 3 processing companies for better production, marketing, quality insurance capacity, focusing on organic certification and with equal job opportunity access; network creation among sub-groups of CFUGs and traders; upgrading 6 LNGO and individuals already active in NTFP production to deliver Business Development Services (BDS). The Market Information System (MIS) from ANSAB will be made available via the BDS and Community Radios of the target area. Finally the project will mobilise KIRDARC Karnali Kachahari (Dialogue for Change) including community radio stations, a model to promote social justice in Karnali, to ensure public debate on right of equitable sharing of NTFP revenues in Karnali.




Project Code:




Nepal, Mid-western Region, Karnali zone, Humla, Mugu and Jumla districts