‘Hamro Coffee’ improves Farming Practices in Nepal
Improved farming practices including better orchard management, pest control and ecological manure application are crucial to improve quality and quantity of coffee grown in Nepal. The European Union funded ‘Hamro Coffee’ project implemented by ICCO, CEAPRED and NCPA was able to address these issues through two key interventions that led to farmers improving their yield per plant on average by up to 4 kgs.
Hamro Coffee created Extension Service Providers (ESPs), a network of frontline coffee technicians. The ESPs improved farming practices of smallholder farmers and farmer groups through regular monitoring visits and trainings on the field. They gave advices on improving harvesting practices and manure applications, provided trainings on orchard management practices, pest control and climate smart agriculture practices. And, together with a technical team, they checked quality assurance of saplings & sufficient field management.
The two year coffee value chain development project also developed a Coffee Manual. Initially, the plan was to develop separate manuals on extension services, input supply, soil and nutrition management. Through interactions and discussions with experts, farmers, and technical advisors, the team decided to develop an integrated ‘Coffee Manual’ as a farmer friendly manual, that was utilized by the ESPs to disseminate good farming practices to more than 73 primary cooperatives and farmer groups, reaching 3200 plus small farmers.
The project had intended to work with standing plants, however, the reluctance of the farmers necessitated that new sapling replaced the older and diseased plants, together with other input supplies like organic pesticides and fertiliser. Saplings of Moringa tree and Macadamia Nut were introduced to encourage coffee farmers to generate additional income with shade-giving trees in their coffee plantations.This pilot was initiated after looking into the comparative benefits from these plants against other common fodder, shade-giving plants. The Macadamia Nut was a success but Moringa trees did not grow well due to climatic incompatibility.
The ESP network was envisioned as a business service model: the ESPs would be able to sustain their business post the project period, rendering their expert services to farmers and cooperatives for a fee. However, this model is not yet fully sustainable as most smallholder farmers are unable or reluctant to pay for the services of ESPs at this point. Still, the ESPs are being recognised as experts by relevant stakeholders in the value chain. The local government and a handful of cooperatives have enlisted their services to train smallholder farmers. Through this exposure the ESPs can expand their activities, which may lead to the establishment of a sustainable service model.