The small and landlocked
Kingdom of Nepal extends from the highest peak in the world to the plains
of the Terai. It lies along the slopes of the Himalaya between China and
India with a land area of 147 181 km2 being 800 km from
east to west, and from 144 km to 240 km north to south, between 80 0
– 88 0 E and 260 - 310 N. The country
Population distribution and growth influence the land use pattern. Pressure
on the forest has increased due to the rapid population growth. Of a land
area of 14.7 million ha, 17% is plain and the remaining 83% is hills and
mountains. 15% of the total land is covered by snow and 37% by forest,
whereas 18% is under agriculture. The population was 24.80 million at
the 2004 census, increasing at a rate of 2.25% annually (although the
Factbook estimates the July 2006 population at 28,287,147 with an
2.17% growth rate). Population density per hectare of cultivated land
is generally higher in the Hills than the Terai and lowest in the Mountains.
The people of
The total cultivable area is 3.1 million hectares with a cropping intensity of 183%. Table 1 gives the land use statistics.
The livestock sector
The ruminant population is greatest in the Hills, followed by the Terai and is least in the Mountains (Table 3).
However, average numbers of livestock per household are generally higher in Mountain households than Terai or Hill households (Table 4). Terai households generally have more cattle to produce draught bullocks because their holdings are larger (2.58 ha.) than in the Hills (1.01 ha.) or Mountains (0.83 ha.). Buffaloes are used for cultivation in the Terai (Table 4).
Livestock Breeds. The different livestock breeds in
Land ownership and tenure
Such theoretical predictions of the effects of land tenure systems on soil fertility management practices are supported by the higher yields observed under owner-cultivation. Perhaps in response to poor yields from tenant farms, landowners have begun to supply chemical fertilizers, favoured by tenants as a "free" input for quick returns. Tenants with little security on the land they cultivate and little vested interest in long-term productivity, may favour the use of chemical fertilizers. Greater investment was found in terms of application of compost, green manure and mulch by owner cultivators who are assured of both the short and long-term effects of their investment.
More far-reaching reforms were introduced between 1964 and 1966 and included
the imposition of a ceiling on land holdings which, together with rent
control measures, sought to reduce returns from investments in land so
as to divert capital to finance industrial developments. Such a potentially
radical move against the elite followed the return of the monarchy in
1960 and was supported by international political and economic interests
The impact of the reforms was blunted by the high ceiling set for land
holdings: 4.1 and 1.1 ha, respectively, for landowners and tenants in
the hills, compared to the present average holding of 0.4 hectares for
a family of between five and six members. The high share of production
(50%) appropriated by landowners, compared to under 25% in
Generally, quick returns are required by tenants to meet subsistence requirements. This, and the relatively insecure nature of tenancy-cultivation, leads to management decisions with a short-term focus. Long-term investments in the land (such as optimum terracing, the planting of trees and trash/ grass binding to prevent soil erosion) may not be considered. Tree planting, in particular, may be discouraged because of rights and ownership status.
Common property resources
Common property resources (CPRs) are resources in which groups of people
have co-equal use right. In
There are considerable differences between locations in levels of dependence on CPRs for fodder. Two studies in the Central Region found that between 25% and 30% of fodder was collected from sources beyond farm boundaries. In contrast, up to 85% of fodder may come from off-farm sources. In a given area, households are likely to differ in their reliance on CPRs. Resource-poor households have been found, generally, to rely on off-farm resources to a greater extent than the relatively resource rich.
In considering CPRs it is important to distinguish resources used and
managed by a distinct group of people from those that have no restrictions
on their use (open access resource). The pessimistic prognosis of Hardin
(1968) for the "tragedy of the commons" argues that degradation
of commonly held property is inevitable because of the economic advantages
to the individual of increasing their share, while an individual is unable
to control over-exploitation by unilateral action. However, in community-managed
Traditional CPR management arrangements in
Entisols. These are the youngest and least developed soils, generally found on hill sides and adjacent to river courses. These soils are formed through deposition of colluvium and alluvium and are present throughout the country. Three great groups of this order are recorded. They are Ustifluvents, Ustorthents and Fluvaquents.
Ustifluvents. Are commonly found where the rivers are active in the depositional stage. Horizons of deposition are identifiable but soil does not show any pedogenetic development. They are mostly coarse textured, highly permeable and well drained. Depending upon the type of materials the rivers are carrying they can be calcareous or non-calcareous. The land is used for grazing and Acacia catechu grows there.
Ustorthents. These develop through colluvial deposition and are
found in landslide scars and on slopes of more than 35 degrees. As the
soil develops it is constantly removed by erosion. They are shallow, near
the bedrock, coarse textured and poorly vegetated. Alnus is very
well suited to such soil in
Fluvaquents. These entisols are also found adjacent to rivers, are poorly to imperfectly drained, vary in texture and occasionally flooded. If suited to cultivation rice can be grown.
Inceptisols. These cover the largest area in
Haplaquents. This soil is dominant in the lower piedmont plain of the Terai where drainage is restricted. It is also found in duns (broad flat valleys), valleys and limited areas of the Middle hills. The B-horizon is well developed. As water remains for more than three months the subsoil shows gleying and mottling. Water table fluctuates and during the monsoon comes very close to the surface. Due to the aquic moisture regime rice grows well on the soils whereas crops requiring aeration do not thrive. These soils are common in the low relief areas and adjacent to major river systems.
Dystrochrepts. These are the commonest soils in the Terai as well as in the Middle hills, mostly below 1 500 m and have developed on the acidic or neutral bedrock including lacustrine deposits. They have a well- developed B-horizon and base saturation below 60%. They developed under forest and are found on steeper slopes and can be stony, well drained and deeper with ample stones and gravel. Their pH is below 5.5 and they have low base saturation. Organic matter plays an important role in retaining soil plant nutrients suppressing the possibility of aluminium toxicity. These soils should be cautiously used by maintaining high organic matter content. Prolonged use of nitrogenous fertilizers alone may increase soils acidity and need to be amended with high rates of lime. Erosion control on the hill slopes is a must to maintain the productivity of Dystrochrepts.
Ustochrepts. These are commonly on alluvial plains of the Terai and Siwalik regions and develop on phyllite, schists, quartzite and limestone on the Middle and High hills. They are commoner on the Western and Middle hills. They are diagnosed by a well-developed B-horizon, pale surface soils, high base saturation, variable soil texture and structure. Those developed on colluvial deposits are stonier. Soils on calcareous parent materials are non-calcareous at the surface. As depth increases calcium carbonate increases due to the leaching and precipitation of the calcium carbonate in the lower horizons. These soils on hilly areas are prone to heavy soil. Ustochrepts in the Terai are deep, well-drained, loamy texture, non-stony and non-calcareous but with high base saturation and when irrigated these soils have wide production potential. Ustochrepts in the Siwalik, Middle and Mountain regions are deep to shallow, stony, coarse to loamy texture, well drained calcareous or non-calcareous but have high base saturation.
Cryumbrepts. These are the soils of the High Himalayan and High Hill regions, generally found above 3 000 m but, depending on the local climate, altitude varies. Annual mean temperature is below 8 0C. Soils of this great group have dark A horizon, high organic matter with wide C/N ratio, low base saturation and contain no free carbonate. They are rubbly and silty in texture. As they are under snow at least three months of the year, vegetation ranging from monsoon grasses to Abies, Rhododendron and Betula is found. Near settlements trees are cleared for fodder and firewood and bare areas are prone to soil erosion. Pathways of gullies caused by melting snow are common. Areas under these soils are extensively used for seasonal grazing.
Haplumbrepts. These are the soils of the High and Middle hill regions and developed in cool temperatures on the acidic bedrocks under mixed forest. They are characterized by well developed Ah and Bm horizons. They have low base saturation and an udic moisture regime. Soils under forest and on steep slopes are shallow and stony but the cultivated ones are fertile due to a high organic matter content, which inactivates the toxic effect of aluminium by its chelating action. Frequency of stones on the surface hinders cultivation. Soil fertility is regularly maintained by grazing animals, and leaving fallow for 2-3 year periods. Barley, millet and potato are the main crops grown.
Cryochrepts. These, similar to Ustochrepts, are found above 3 000 metres. They are of no importance for agriculture production.
Eutrochrepts. These soils are similar to Ustochrepts but develop on calcium rich parent materials under an udic moisture regime.
Spodosols. These are soils with high organic matter and active amorphous materials containing Al but with or without Fe which develop between 3 000-4 000 m altitude with a humid, cool climate. They are found in the higher part of the High Hills and the lower part of the high Himalayan region and occupy a very small area. Agriculturally they are of very little importance. They have a well developed Bh or Bf horizon. These soils to be developed need mean annual temperature of 5 - 8 0C. They have low pH, which restricts growth of agricultural crops; rhododendron dominates the vegetation. They occur mostly in Tengboche of the Sagarmatha regions and Wollangchunggola of the upper Tamor River. Cryorthods are a great group under Spodosols.
Mollisols. Soils with high organic matter content, usually under thick grass or forest, dark colour and high base saturation are classified under Mollisols. They develop on basic parent materials at higher elevations.
Haplustolls. These are common in the sub tropical mixed forest of the Terai and inner valleys. They develop on alluvial materials and are distinguished by a soft and dark coloured mollic Ah horizon with high base saturation and a well developed Bm horizon under an ustic moisture regime. Haplustolls develop under forest but not under grassland. Land with old alluvial deposition and forest litter which, on decomposition, contributes high base saturation helps developing mollisols. The litter is generally sal leaves; these soils develop under sal (Shorea robusta) forest. They are usually very fertile and produce high crop yields for the first few years after clearing, but subsequently yields decrease as organic matter content decreases: maintenance of organic matter is necessary to sustain productivity.
Cryoborolls. These differ from Haplustolls mainly in their development on base rich parent materials under thick grassland of the high mountain in high Himalayan regions. They are found in cooler climate and an udic moisture regime.
Alfisols. These soils are found on the higher river terraces with
accumulation of a leached layer of lattice of silicate clays in their
B horizon and high base saturation. They are available on stable slopes
of the Middle and High hill regions where climate helps the development
of mature pedogenetic argillic horizons. The great groups of Alfisols
Rhodustalfs. These, found in upper river terraces especially in the Siwaliks and Middle hills, are mostly developed on green phyllite. They are not present in the Terai nor the High hills. They have well expressed Bt horizons; soil matrix hue is more red than 5YR with ustic moisture regime. Base saturation is more than 35%. Fertility is maintained with the application of ample organic matter. Decrease in the content of organic matter correspondingly decreases crop productivity due to loss of fertile surface soil. These occur on ancient river terraces (tars), the upper alluvial terraces where water for irrigation is scarce. Rainfed cultivation is practiced with maize/millet being the major crops. As these crops do not stand waterlogging farmers grow then on sloping terraces, exposing the soil to heavy erosion. Where there is water for irrigation crops are grown on level terraces and the red colour due to the hematite is lost and the Fe is changed to limonite. In this case, total free iron content does not exceed 5% in the Nepalese red soils.
Eutroboralfs. These Alfisols develop on calcium-rich material under cold temperatures in the high Himalayan region.
Haplustalfs. These are Alfisols similar to the Rhodustalf but do not meet the criteria of the Rhodustalfs.
Ultisols. Ultisols are not very common in
Aridosols. These too are rare in
Indigenous classification of soil and agricultural
Khet and Bari land classification
Farmers have distinct and systematic criteria for soil classification. Soils are differentiated on the basis of colour, topsoil texture, depth and consistency. These factors, in combination with slope provide information on infiltration, drainage, soil moisture retention capacity, organic matter content and stability.
The soil classification system used by the farmers is based on soil colour, texture, consistency and depth. Most indigenous classes can readily be converted to commonly used scientific classification. The conversion table facilitates communication between subsistence farmers and extension personnel. More documentation and calibration is needed, particularly in the area of physical properties and soil performance in terms of biomass production. Additional research is needed to document indigenous knowledge on soil workability, soil performance and quality, all of which are notoriously difficult to measure scientifically. These are the most fruitful research directions since their potential benefits are great, particularly when new management techniques and new crops are being introduced into the farming systems.
High Himalayan region. This region which is always covered by snow occupies 23.7% of the total land – 3 447 500 ha. Its altitude ranges from 3 000 m to 8 848 m. The mountains are very steep with active glacier systems. The geology consists of gneiss, schist, limestone and shale of different ages. Physical weathering predominates and soils are very stony. This region falls largely within the alpine and arctic climate regimes, so there are active glacier systems where there is enough precipitation in high catchments. The climate is dependent on elevation and location in the mountain massifs. The few pockets of arable land of Solukhumbu, Mustang, Manang and Dolpa are the result of a unique combination of aspect, shelter from wind and availability of water for irrigation.
Characteristic landforms are glaciers, cirque basins, moraines, U-shaped valleys and avalanche slopes. Bedrock in most of the areas is exposed at or near the surface including gneisses, schist and the Tethys sediments. Less than 1% of the region has soil and climate suited to crop production and then only where irrigation is available.
High Hills (or Mountain) region. The altitude of this region ranges from 2 000 m to 2 500 m and it lies below the permanent snow line. This region occupies 2,899,500 ha making up 19.7% of the country. It has a cool climate and receives heavy to moderate snow in winter. Mountain slopes are very steep but there are some flat valleys as well. The geology is characterized by phyllite, schists, gneiss and quartzite of different ages. Soil formation on the slopes is slow and they are rocky.
This region borders the Middle Hills to the south and the high Himal to the north. The boundaries are defined by changes in geomorphic processes, bedrock geology, climate and relative relief. This region has more metamorphosed and structurally consolidated rocks. Gneisses and garnetiferous mica schists are common. Most of the major valleys have been glaciated. High river gradients and enhanced river down-cutting resulted in the formation of deep canyons since glaciation. Agriculturally this region is of lesser importance. After the snow melts the mountains are covered with thick grasses and livestock like sheep, yak, and other mountain animals graze in this region. In the valleys, in summer, one crop a year can be harvested. The crops are potato, naked barley, buckwheat, and maize. Food grown here is not enough to support the population and more has to brought in.
Middle Hills (or Mountain) region. This region includes a wide range of physiography. Its area is 4 350 300 ha. - about 29.5% of the area of the country. Mountain peaks range up to 2 000 m with narrow river valleys. The mountains are the Mahabharat range. The geology consists of a complex of phyllite, schists, quartzite of Cambrian to Precambrian ages and granites and limestones of different ages. The climate ranges from warm subtropical to warm temperate. The higher peaks receive occasional snow whereas some lower parts receive occasional frost in winter, which causes damage to crops. Soils are extremely variable because of the differences in bedrock, geomorphology and microclimate. The southern margin mostly consists of a prominent belt of uplifted mountains known as Mahabharat Lekh. This belt is made up of deeply weathered granite, limestone, dolomite, shale, sandstone, slate and quartzite; is intensively cultivated and is home for more than 60% of the population. It produces most of its food, yet food is always transported from surplus regions to this area. Subtropical dense forest occupies the non-agricultural land.
Siwalik region. This region lies at the foot of the Mahabharat range. Its area is 1 888 600 ha: 12.7% of the total land. Altitudes range from 300 m to 1 800 m. The geology mainly consists of tertiary mudstone, sandstone, siltstones and conglomerate. Soils vary depending on the materials from which they are developed. There are several inner valleys or duns, which are densely populated. Because of alluvial deposition these valleys are very fertile. The landscape is very rugged and unstable, consisting of weakly consolidated Tertiary sediments with gentle to strongly sloping dip slope. Siwalik soils are unable to retain high precipitation which frequently occurs resulting in flash floods. Duns, a very important part of the Siwalik landscape, are structurally stable and sometimes, in the past, their outlets were blocked by rapid tectonic uplift of the Siwalik range. The major dun valleys are: Chitwan, Dang, Deokhuri, Surkhet, Trijuga and Kamala. Climate in the duns is modified by the regular occurrence of winter fogs; otherwise it is very dry.
The Terai region. The Terai, a flat extension of the southern
Indo-Gangetic plain, occupies 2 142 200 ha, 14.4% of the country.
Altitudes range from 66 m to 300 m. The region enjoys a warm sub-tropical
climate and its alluvial soils are fertile. It is the granary of
of precipitation falls during June to October. The monsoon enters
Most of the eastern and central hilly areas receive 1 500 – 2 500 mm; the west gets 1 000 – 1 500 mm. Seasonal distribution of precipitation varies from east to west. The seasonal distribution of precipitation is shown in Table 14.
Winter precipitation is due to the south west monsoon
which passes over the driest area of
Temperature. Temperature is directly related to altitude. For a rise of 100 m, the mean annual temperature drops by 0.5°C. Latitude also affects the temperature. For every 3° north, the mean temperature would fall by 1°C. Temperature falls slowly during the monsoon because of heavy clouds and rain and continues to drop as winter starts. January is the coldest month and June-July are the hottest months. Temperatures tend to rise from east to west. The highest temperature recorded is 46°C (114.8° F) at Chisapani in Bardiya district and the lowest -26° C at Thakmarpha in Mustang district.
Livestock are raised from the plains of the Terai to the rain shadow areas of the Himalayas, and there is a strong integration of crops with livestock, forestry and marketing in all agro-ecological regions. The role of livestock in each agro-ecological zone is specific.
Mountain (> 2 500 m)
Herds are made up of yaks, chauries (yak-cattle crosses), cattle, sheep, goats and horses, reared in semi-pastoral or transhumant systems. Livestock move in an annual cycle according to their specific requirements and grazing availability at different altitudes. Yaks occupy an ecological niche at high altitudes (3 000 - 5 000 m), chauries move between 1 500 - 4 000 m, while cattle move between 2 000 and 3 000 m. Sheep, goats and horses are more adaptable to altitude and move between 1 200 – 4 000 m. Plant growth is limited by low temperatures and a short growing season. Barley, buckwheat and potato are the major crops. Pasture at high altitudes is only accessible for grazing in summer (July - September). Thereafter herds move to lower areas for winter (December - March); yaks, however, which are only adapted to cold conditions, are seldom taken below 2 500 m.
Livestock provide milk and fibre and their dung is a major source of fuel. Crossbred males are used for transport and meat. Goats and sheep supply meat and fibre. The use of mules, sheep and goats for trading and transport of basic inputs (grain, salt, building materials, etc.) is an important source of income.
Hills (500-2 500 m)
Cattle, buffalo and goats are the main grazing livestock. Livestock rearing is sedentary and animals make daily grazing forays and return every evening. Forages include: grazing in the forest, on cultivated land after harvest, and on fallows; also crop residues of paddy, maize, millet, wheat, mustard, soybean and vegetables; grass gathered from terraces and forests; as well as tree fodder gathered from farmer-owned and forest trees. Cattle graze and only lactating buffaloes and improved cattle (Jersey and Holstein crossbreds) are stall-fed with the associated labour to cut and carry fodder. Female calves are reared as herd replacements while males are either reared for draught oxen or neglected. The disposal of surplus cattle, both male calves and cull females at the end of their reproductive life, is a problem because of religious beliefs inhibiting their sale for slaughter and use for meat.
There is a potential to increase feed production from cultivated land by including winter fodders such as oats (see photo), oats + vetch, and oats + pea mixtures. Concentrate feeds used include: farm-produced rice bran, maize flour, (also barley, oats in Surkhet, Illam, Sindhupalchok, Kavre etc.) and common salt; compound feeds are rarely brought in unless justified by access to an urban liquid milk market. Cattle and buffalo are the source of milk, manure and draught. Sheep and goats are used for meat and fibre. Cultivation of land and transport are done by oxen.
Terai (< 500 m) The Terai is also characterized by multi-ethnic settlements, predominantly influenced by Hindu culture. Cattle and buffalo are the source of milk, manure and draught. Oxen are used for transport and cultivation. Although chemical fertilizers have become increasingly important for the intensive cropping, manure is still the main source of nutrient replenishment and soil fertility maintenance. In many areas where massive deforestation has reduced the supply of firewood, dung is an important fuel.
Cattle, buffaloes and goats are the main grazing livestock. The predominant system of livestock rearing is sedentary and animals make daily grazing forays and return every evening. Compared with the mid-hills, there is less grazing land and forest; so more crop residues are fed and the amount of stall-feeding relative to grazing is greater in the Terai than in the Mid hills. Although there is a similar shortage of feed in winter and before the onset of the monsoon, most productive and draught livestock are well looked after and others survive on the available grazing. Forages in the Terai include: grazing on roadsides, uncultivated land, forest (near the Siwalik), on cultivated land after harvest, and on fallows; crop residues (paddy, wheat, maize, millet, cotton, sugar cane tops, lentils). Cultivation of fodder oats, berseem, and oat and vetch mixtures has become popular in dairy pockets. Home-produced rice bran, wheat bran, maize, gur (evaporated sugar cane juice), broken pigeon pea and salt are the major feed ingredients, alone or in combinations with roughages like rice and wheat straw. Cattle generally graze, but are also stall-fed on crop residues and forages. Lactating buffaloes and improved cattle are given supplementary concentrates.
Female calves are reared as herd replacements while males are either reared
for replacement draught oxen, or are neglected, slaughtered, or sold to buyers
Figure 4 shows the different agro-ecozones of
Live cattle and goats are exported particularly to India and while numbers of cattle are also imported, the numbers exported since 1995 are nearly twice those imported (although since 2000 the cumulative numbers imported exceed exports). Small quantities of beef and veal are imported. While dairy products are exported (in 2004 milk equivalent exports were 4,600 tonnes) imports are higher (in 2004 milk equivalent imports were 17,000 tonnes) and the cost of milk equivalent imports exceeded exports by US$ 4,796,000.
Livestock population by ecological zone is shown in Table 17.
* Figures in brackets are percentages
Cattle are reared for milk and draught; buffaloes are reared for milk and meat. Goat meat is very popular throughout the country so they are reared for meat, and the Sinhal goats of high altitude regions are reared for meat and pashmina. Sheep are reared for meat and wool. There are 888 190 milking cows, which produced 368 531 metric tons of milk in a year, while 1 015 727 milking buffaloes produced 863 322 metric ton milk in 2003/2004. In the context of total milk production cows produce almost 30 % while buffaloes produce 70 % of the milk in the country (Table 18).
Regarding milk production in the three agro-ecozones, the highest milk yield is in the Hills followed by Terai and lowest in the Mountains. Cattle contribute more in milk both in Terai (41.18 vs 39.11 %) and in the Mountain (9.51 vs 6.78 %) whereas the buffalo contribution is greater in the Hills (54.11 vs 49.31 %) (Table 19).
* Figures in brackets are percentages
Buffalo meat contributes 64.1% on an annual basis while goat meat contribution is 19.5%. Chicken, pig, sheep and duck contribution in the national context is 7.6 %, 7.40 %, 1.3 % and 0.1 % respectively (Table 20).
In the Mountains the major sources of meat are buffaloes (63%), followed by goats (17.23%), pig (7.34%) and sheep (6.95%). The same trend is found in the Terai whereas in the Hills chicken rank third and pig fourth as far as total meat production is concerned (Table 21).This variation is due to the existence of various ethnic communities.
Wool production is concentrated in Mountain and Hills where sheep are the major source of meat and provide wool for household consumption. A mountain sheep produces 0.74 kg wool per year. The lowest quantity of wool per animal is produced in the Terai (Table 22).
To understand the livestock production systems of
Functions of livestock. Farmers usually keep several species
of livestock at the same time, for interrelated reasons including food
(milk, meat and eggs), fibre, hides /skin, manure, fuel, stores of wealth,
draught power, transport (riding, pack), cash and barter income, for hospitality,
and for festivals. Because of these multiple functions any proposal to
regulate or reduce livestock numbers must provide for equivalent substitutes.
Any reduction in manure production which is crucial for crops, will have
to be replaced by chemical fertilizer, and organic matter through change
in cropping programmes. Dung is used as fuel, so would have to be replaced
by firewood or kerosene. Alternative investments, i.e., alternative stores
of wealth, would also be needed which give better returns than investment
in livestock. A survey of cash income and labour use for livestock enterprises
Ruminant management is governed by factors such as cropping intensity, availability of forest resources, animal species and productive stage, the overall farming system of the area, labour availability and animal numbers per household. Rearing of ruminants in particular, is dependent upon the overall farming system. Three traditional management systems predominate:(i) Transhumant system. This system is adopted in high Himalayan areas where herds of yaks, chauries (yak-cattle crosses), cattle, sheep, goats and horses migrate from one place to another throughout the year. Livestock move together in an annual cycle according to their requirement and grazing availability at different altitudes. Yaks occupy an ecological niche at high altitudes (3 000 – 5 000 m), chauries move between 1 500 and 4 000 m, while cattle move between 2 000 and 3 000 m. In contrast, sheep, goats and horses are more adaptable and move between 1 200 – 4 000 m. Plant growth is limited by cold weather and a short growing season. Barley, buckwheat and potato are the major crops. Crop production is less efficient due to the long time required for crops to mature. Vegetation at higher altitudes is only accessible for grazing in summer (July - September). Thereafter herds are moved to lower areas for winter (December - March); however, yaks are adapted only to cold climates and are seldom taken below 2 500 m.
This system utilizes forage resources from the alpine pastures during the monsoon, and crop stubble and fallow land in winter. During upward and downward migrations undergrowth in the forest region is the major forage source. Livestock provide milk and fibre and their dried manure is a major source of energy for cooking. Crossbred males (dzopas) are used for local transport and also supply meat. Goats and sheep supply meat and fibre. The use of mules, sheep and goats for trading and transport of basic inputs provides an important source of income.
(ii) Sedentary system. In this system livestock make grazing forays from the village and return in the evening. The main grazing areas in summer are scrubland and community grazing land around the village. The sedentary population consists of work oxen, dry buffaloes and a small number of cattle. This system prevails in the lower altitudes of the hills (900 – 1 000 m) and utilizes all the available forage in and around villages. Cattle, buffalo and goats are the main grazing livestock. Forages include: grazing in the forest, on cultivated land after harvest, and fallow land; also crop residues from paddy, maize, millet, wheat, mustard, soybean and vegetables; grass gathered from terraces and forests; as well as tree fodder gathered from farmer-owned trees and forest trees. The grazing area is usually degraded and gully formation and soil erosion evident. Animals spend more than half their time grazing, but most of the feed is crop by-products and tree fodder in winter and grasses and weeds from crop land in summer which are offered evening and morning.
(iii) Stall-fed system. This is mainly found in the Terai and low hills (< 900 m) and peri-urban areas with milking buffalo and exotic or crossbred cattle. It is governed both by the availability of community grazing land and the steepness of the terrain, which may mean that other classes of livestock are also kept under stall-feeding. The system prevails in areas of intensive cultivation (three-crop sites), where the availability of crop by-products is adequate to feed the animals in winter. In addition to crop by-products, tree fodder, grasses and weeds from farm land are an important forage source.
Fodder is collected from all land use systems and the major sources are: cropland, forest, grassland, shrubland and non-cultivated inclusions. Forests are lands with tree crown cover above 10 %; shrublands are degraded forests where there are trees with less than 10 % crown cover; lands without trees or with only a few scattered trees with grass cover are described as grasslands. Forest, shrub and grasslands are generally owned by the government and are under the control of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation. Non-Cultivated Inclusions (NCI) are government or privately owned lands consisting of degraded forests, permanent fallow, abandoned terraces and homesteads.
(i) Cropland. The majority of cropland is in the Terai (52%) and in the Middle hills (40%). Crop by-products and crop residues commonly used for livestock feed are straws, stovers, pulse residues, oil crop residues, maize cobs, sugarcane tops, rice bran, wheat bran, barley bran, mustard cake and molasses. In the country as a whole, crop by-products and residues contribute about 47 % of the total available TDN. Agricultural land contributes substantial fodder in the Middle-hills and Terai, where there are large livestock populations but little grassland. In crop growing areas, rice straw, wheat straw and maize stovers are widely fed, sometimes with cereal bran and oil seed cakes, along with a little grain.
(ii) Forest. The area of forest is 5.5 million hectares or 37.4 % of the total land. Forest land is almost evenly distributed between the High hills (34%), Middle hills (33%) and the Terai (34%). Fodder is collected from the forest for feed and bedding which is subsequently used as manure. Uneaten branches and twigs are used as fuel.
(iii) Shrubland. The area of shrubland is 0.7 million hectares or 4.8 % of the total. There is little shrubland in Terai, (9%); most is in the Middle hills (57%) and the High hills (34%). Fodder from shrubland is used to feed the animals and for bedding. In the country as a whole, shrubland contributes 7 % of the total available TDN.
(iv) Non -Cultivated Inclusions (NCI). The area of non-cultivated inclusions is 0.99 million hectares or 6.8 % of all land. There are few non-cultivated inclusions in the High hills (15 %) and the Terai (18 %); most is in the Middle hills (67 %). NCI lie fallow throughout the year and fodder is collected either by cut-and-carry or grazed by animals of nearby households. Fodder from non-cultivated inclusions contributes 11 % of the total available nutrients.
(v) Grassland. The area of grassland is 1.7 million hectares or 11.8 % of the land area. In the High hills grassland is the most important fodder source. Most of the grassland is in the High hills (79.3%) and the Middle hills (16.7%). More than half of the grassland is in the high mountains. The Terai and Siwaliks together have (4%). Grassland contributes 5 % of available TDN.
(i) Mountain. Ruminants in high mountain areas mostly graze for 6-8 hours. Cereal by-products are fed to both ruminants and monogastrics. Concentrate feed is given to lactating and growing animals. Stall-feeding is only practiced when one or two animals are kept. Kundo (a home made cooked concentrate) is only fed to lactating animals. Salt is given once in a week or two mixed in kundo when kundo is fed. Oxen are given better care during cultivation time. Yaks and chauries graze for more time than other ruminants; mostly they are left to graze in pastures, forest and along the streams when the land is not covered with snow. They are let loose in such areas continuously for several days. It is more systematic at higher altitudes where a fixed system of rotational grazing prevails in the kharkas (pasture land) with 15 - 30 days in one kharka depending on the availability of forage and strength of the herd. In this system, there is no shed for the animals, only a compound divided into compartments, where the animals spend the night. Once the forage is finished in a kharka, they are moved to another. In winter when snow covers the pasture, animals do not find sufficient forage. In April – May, even when the pasture is bare, animals are left to graze and cannot even compensate the energy they spend going and coming from such pastures and they suffered great hardship. Although farmers make hay in high altitude in the rainy season when some grass is available, it is not sufficient to meet their nutrient requirement because farmers do not have sufficient land and prefer to grow potato, buckwheat and other crops on the limited land. Hay from native species like Elymus nutans (furcha), Pennisetum flaccidum (dhimchi), Medicago sativa ssp. falcata (kote), and other local grasses is very expensive and considered best by farmers. Hay is usually carried by pack yaks while transporting the household goods, from one part to another. Potato is one of the main items given to these animals as concentrate because it is available in sufficient quantity in both winter and summer.
Usually animals are fed twice daily. Young calves and lactating females
are given special attention and fed with better hay, khole and
some potatoes. Calves of under a year are given some pida prepared
from uwa, (naked barley), potato, peas, wheat and maize flours.
This practice is also very common in
Yaks and chauries are always tied during feeding because they are extremely aggressive. Strong ones do not allow weak ones to eat anything if not tied. If a strong yak/nak hits a weak one, all others also come and hit that animal and may even kill it. In the migratory system, goats are taken to pastures at different altitudes depending on season and weather. Goats usually graze along with sheep and the two species move together. Hay from native fodder is not sufficient to meet the requirement of the entire herd for the long dry winter and summer and animals lose considerable weight during these seasons. Some grain is offered occasionally. Salt is provided from time-to-time.
(ii) Hills. Because of the high animal population and cultivation pressure and large human population in the Mid-hills, there is competition amongst livestock species for available feed. Productive animals, especially lactating buffaloes and cattle, are kept in the villages and others, especially sheep, goats and dry stock are often taken to the pastures for about four months in summer. The sedentary population consists of work oxen, buffaloes and a few of cattle. This system prevails at the lower altitudes of the Mid-hills (900-1 000 masl) and utilizes all the forage in and around the village. The grazing area is usually degraded and gully formation and soil erosion evident. The animals spend half their time grazing but most of the feed comes from crop by-products and tree fodder in winter, and grasses and weeds from cropland in summer, which are fed evening and morning. Usually, fodder trees play an important role to provide feed in late winter. Productive animals, e.g. lactating buffaloes, receive better feed in terms of concentrate, green fodder and straw. Others subsist on straw and around the fallow land and nearby forest.
Goats are left to graze or browse on bushes or low branches of trees near grazing areas or the forest for sufficient time to meet their food requirement. After 8 hours grazing they are brought back to the sheds and offered some grain (usually maize) especially castrated males for fattening. Young kids and their dams usually stay at home to protect them from predators as well as for better care and management; after about two months, they join the herd for grazing and some concentrate is provided in the evening.
(iii) Terai. Most livestock are stall-fed or graze around the villages on fallows, waste land, roadsides and are also fed by-products. Some ethnic shepherd groups still move their sheep flocks, especially Lampuchhre, in search of feed around the villages and may move across districts. Goats are mostly stall-fed and a few are reared in villages, along roadsides, near small towns and river basins. Forage is cut and carried. Goats are penned all day and fodder is fed in a rack. Enclosure size depends on the number of goats. In some places goats are penned in the same enclosure day and night; some grain is usually offered in the evening. Some are transferred to a night pen to save them from theft and predators. Lactating does and their kids are given better care and management along with good quality concentrate in form of cooked maize and / or broken rice.
Where paddy is the main crop, feed scarcity in commoner in the rainy season, when all land is planted. Grasses on bunds are the major source of stall-feeding and are fed in combination with chopped rice straw. Other combinations: chopped rice straw plus mustard cake, wheat roughages plus local green grasses, wheat roughage (bhusa) plus oil cake, rice straw plus locally made concentrate, wheat roughages plus locally made concentrate i.e. mixing grain with roughages are fed. In a few cases, livestock graze for several hours. In the dry season many areas are uncultivated and although growth of native grasses is slow, there is usually sufficient feed for livestock in the villages. In the hot, dry season livestock are mostly loose for grazing in uncultivated areas. Where the market access by road has improved, farmers have started to adopt new production technology based on balanced farming with cultivated fodder, fodder trees and appropriate crops to improve the feed along with increased farm productivity and keeping improved animals, especially buffaloes for milk. In winter livestock raisers generally feed oats, berseem, winter vetch in combination with paddy straw. In the rainy season, farmers feed livestock with stylo, teosinte, Napier, jowar, summer joint vetch etc. with combination of locally available feed resources. Farmers collect green feed for cut-and-carry; stall-feeding prevails in intensively cultivated areas where availability of crop by-products is sufficient to maintain animals in winter.Feed utilization
Most farmers do not know about the quality of improved fodder, they harvest the crops when they are over-mature and fibrous but the dry matter yield is at its maximum. Farmers store heaps of maize stalks, wheat straw, millet straw and rice straw under the sky so the quality of these residues is already poor under traditional storage practices. The proper conservation and utilization techniques of these feeds should be demonstrated further.
Fodder Conservation. Both fodder conservation as hay and silage are encouraged. Farmers are provided with technical and financial assistance for implementing these activities. Farmers of high altitude regions have adopted hay making to some extent whereas both methods of conservation of fodder need to further be demonstrated for the other regions.
Fodder enrichment. In order to improve the utilization of crop residues, efforts have made to enhance their preservation and quality. Paddy straw, a very common roughage in the Terai is improved by urea treatment.
Despite a high average population per household, insufficient animal products are produced to meet the growing demand. The livestock consume nutrients below their maintenance requirement, which is the major reason for low livestock productivity. Different approaches have been adopted by Government organizations for fodder production in different zones:
- High hill
- Mid hill
An individual farmer and group/community approach is adopted to popularise fodder production and conservation by adopting the following strategies:
Major problems associated with feeds and feeding, include both their quality and quantity during winter and summer, be it in migratory, sedentary or stall fed systems. Shrinkage of pasture and community (public) grazing land, decreasing feed resources, unavailability of cereal and legume by-products for feeding animals etc. have led to the quantity related problems. The available feeds and forages are mostly poor in nutritive value. Grazing in the forest area has been prohibited to a great extent causing some problems in the availability of feeds and fodders. Heavy dependence on poor quality roughages and degraded pasture and grazing lands has reduced the production and productivity of the livestock.
There are three important components of Nepalese farming systems and they are crop, livestock and forest. Integration among these components results in a farming system in different agro-ecozones of the country. Distinctively integration of livestock prevails in three prominent farming systems:
(i) Mountain farming systems. The potato, barley and buckwheat zone is in the lower ranges of the Himalayas from 2 500 - 3 500 m above sea level. The land is steep and less fertile than in other zones; holdings are small and fragmented. Crops take longer to mature, and harvesting one crop annually is the common practice. Crop productivity is very low and intensification to increase yields has limited scope. Cereals, for example, have to be purchased from outside the region. Transhumant animal production is concentrated in alpine meadows and forests. The chyangra goat, bhyanglung sheep, lulu and kirko cattle, chauri, Tibetan horse, yak and nak predominate. The productivity of livestock is lower than in the Terai or hills. Households keep 5 –20 cattle and 50 or more small ruminants.
Farmers in this zone derive their income mainly from livestock, but neither animal nor crop production can meet their basic needs. Many young people move to lower, more favourable altitudes to farm, or go abroad to find work. There are few educational opportunities for children. Generally, mountain farmers have little or no access to roads, electricity, markets or modern communication systems. In these remote areas, the main ethnic groups are the Sherpa, Limbu or Tamang who are adapted to the hardships of the mountain-farming environment that include a cold climate and food shortages. Tables 24 and 25 describe the prevailing cropping systems in mountain regions.
The constraints faced by mountain farmers and options for improvement (Sharma 1998, Morrison 1998, and Shrestha and Pradhan 1995) are as follows:
(ii) Hill farming systems
Hill farming systems are true examples of mixed crop-livestock production utilizing forest resources at elevations of 500 – 2 500 m above sea level. The combination of topography, wind, rainfall distribution, soils and solar radiation has given rise to unique and complex systems incorporating traditional practices and experiences. The terrain is rugged and transport, communications and livestock are all intertwined with the agro-ecological conditions to form micro-farming systems which differ between locations. In the lower hill belt, water is available for irrigation and rice is grown on terraces at least once a year. It seems that 1 800 m is tentatively the upper economic limit for rice, except in Jumla, where the crop is grown at 2 500 m above sea level.
Rice is usually followed by winter wheat under irrigation. Other cash crops such as potatoes and vegetables, that command higher prices, are slowly replacing winter wheat. Tropical fruits are also grown in this belt. The unirrigated upland (bari) land, has been used to grow maize, finger-millet, cowpeas, mustard, vegetables, orange, lemons, plums, pears, mangoes, guavas, bananas, pineapples, sugarcane, tobacco, barley, wheat, fodder trees and forages such as oats, vetch and Stylosanthes spp. There is moderate use of chemical fertilizers but extensive use of manure. The predominant animals are cattle, buffalo and goats, which are mostly stall-fed with crop residues supplemented with foliage from trees grown on the slopes of terraces and in the forest. Generally, milking animals are stall-fed with grasses from the terraces of the cultivated fields, using the cut-and-carry systems. Dry animals, oxen and growing heifers are often allowed to graze communally on common or fallow land.
Sedentary livestock keeping predominates. Feeding and management of livestock is mostly done by women, whilst the marketing of animals, milk and milk products is undertaken by men, who also make the decisions both in household and social matters. Bullocks are used for draught for almost all cultivation, and for threshing of rice and millet. Rice straw constitutes the main source of feed, with milking animals being supplemented with 'kundo', a concentrate made from the by-products of grain and oilseeds.
In the upper hill belt, maize, millet, mustard, black gram, horse gram
and soybean are the predominant crops. Most of the citrus produced in
The cultivated land is steep in this zone and depending on rainfall, is more difficult to work. Farmers cultivate the land around the village at the start of the summer rains. In the upper hill belt transhumant rearing animals exists; stock are taken to higher pastoral areas for grazing, moving from place to place during summer. They are brought down to the village at harvesting time and allowed to graze in the fields, where temporary sheds are erected for manure collection. Tables 26 and 27 describe the prevailing cropping systems in hill regions.
Constraints in various sectors and focused intervention initiated
The constraints faced by hill farmers and options for improvement (Sharma 1998, Morrison 1998, and Shrestha and Pradhan 1995) are as follows:
(iii) Terai farming systems
The Terai contributes 47% to the agricultural GDP of Nepal, which is
the highest of the three major agro-ecological zones. Crops provide about
80% of the household income and dominate agricultural production in the
Terai. The contribution of livestock to household income is estimated
to be around 20% (Shrestha and Sherchand, 1988). The land is flat and
fertile and is suitable for the cultivation of rice, the major crop. The
area lies in an east west direction in the southern part of
Most of the Terai households keep cattle; nearly 50% keep goats and over one-third keep buffalo. Although mechanization is replacing draught animal power, most of the poor and middle-level farmers still depend on draught animal power for various agricultural operations. Crop intensification in the Terai is high, with as many as three crops produced in a year. Consequently, an imbalance between organic matter and micronutrients is occurring in the soils. Tables 28 and 29 show the major cropping patterns in Terai regions of the country.
Table 28. Major Cropping Pattern in the Bariland of Terai
Table 29. Major Cropping Pattern in the Irrigated land of Terai
Constraints in various sectors and focused intervention initiated
The constraints faced by the farmers of Terai and the options for improvement (Sharma 1998, Morrison 1998, and Shrestha and Pradhan 1995) are as follows:
Based on the crop-livestock and forest integration, different livestock production systems utilize the resources of the various grasslands. Annual resource utilization by types of animals is described below:
Tropical and sub-tropical. In the tropical grasslands of the Terai, animals such as Terai cattle, local Terai buffalo, Terai goats and Lampuchhre sheep are grazed year round even though the availability of forage is minimal at most times of the year. During the summer monsoon grazing is mainly confined to the road-sides and any available place. From October to December as the crop ripens and is harvested, animals graze the bunds under strict supervision. From January to May grazing moves to harvested and fallow lands where they are managed as herds. Animals are primarily raised under sedentary management, however, their major feed supply comes from cropland products and grazing fallows, wasteland and marginal road sides. In the subtropical grasslands (Siwaliks) which includes mainly lowland and upland agriculture areas and the forest elevations 1 000 – 2 000 m, the major feed supply comes from forest grazing, croplands, and wastelands. Lime, Parkote buffaloes, hill cattle, Kage sheep, Khari goats are raised under a sedentary management system.
Temperate, sub-alpine, and alpine. The temperate to alpine climate favours dwarf shrubs, junipers, rhododendrons and short grasses in many alpine pastures for the migrating flocks and herds (Pradhan and Rasali, 1994). Cool temperate grasslands are spread throughout the upper midhills from 2 450 to 3 050 m, whereas sub-alpine grasslands are located between 3 050 to 3 610 m characterized by continuous but in some places scattered grasslands. Sub-alpine grassland has a limited grazing period of 5 - 8 months owing to heavy snow during winter months. Alpine grasslands are most prevalent above the tree line from 3 900 m in elevation. These grasslands provide forage from June to September (4 months) particularly for nomadic sheep and goats. Grazing of the areas is seasonal due to the migratory system which varies depending on animal species, local geographical conditions and traditional patterns. Yaks graze the alpine meadows at altitudes of up to 5 000 m or more during summer. In winter the herd is brought down to around 3 000 m and herded near the village or allowed to graze unattended in forest around the winter snow line.
Migratory herds of sheep and goats move up from the villages in June - July to graze alpine pasture during summer and return with the approaching winter in October - November to graze grasslands and degraded forest above the village. About November the flocks move down into the Mid-hills where they graze crop stubble, and fallow lands in return for their manure contribution. Cattle, chauries, buffalo may join the summer grazing migration but are mostly stall-fed during winter on conserved hay and tree fodder. Herds of horses and mules, being rested from their winter transportation work also join the migration to the high pasture in the summer.
Steppe. Steppe vegetation is found to the north of the main Himalayan peaks of Dhaulagiri and Annapurna in the districts of Dolpa, Mustang Manang and Mugu. Located between approximately 2 450 – 5 000 m, the entire region is in a rain shadow and averages less than 500 mm annual precipitation. The major vegetation consists of dwarf shrubs and 12 - 22 % ground vegetation with perennials and weeds (Pradhan and Rasali, 1994). The vegetation of this region characterizes the high altitude pastures that are grazed by migratory herds and flocks. Chyangra goats and Lulu cattle are common in areas of poorer grazing. Yaks, chauries, kirko cattle, bhyanglung sheep, Tibetan horses and donkeys are found in the better pastures with greater accessibility to grazing during summer and winter.
Changes in vegetation and degradation of forest cover alters and may ultimately destroy, the habitat of indigenous wildlife. Present continuous overgrazing of rangelands in most ecozones undoubtedly has led to a reduction in the numbers and range of wildlife species. In Langtang valley, due to heavy grazing, during the monsoon, wild herbivore, scrow (Capricoruis sumatraensis) are replaced by livestock (Yonzon and Hunter, 1991). It is the same for the wild buffalo (Bubalis arnee) and Gouri Gai (Bos gaurus) in tropical areas. For both the tame and ungulate herbivores whose life cycle is governed by the environment and feed available, the grassland carrying capacities and stocking rates should be determined that provide home for both livestock and wildlife. In some areas, that have been seriously overgrazed by livestock and are important habitats of wildlife, strict measures need to be taken to restrict or control livestock in order to improve vegetation condition and wildlife habitats.
There are formal and informal markets for livestock. Traditional markets are in the Terai where communications and the availability of marketable surpluses are greater but the infrastructure is poor for holding, selling, loading and transporting livestock efficiently. Price information for livestock is limited and because producers bring only one or two head to the market, they find themselves either taking the best price offered or returning home. In the hills and mountains, permanent markets are confined to district headquarters and a few other centres.
Market agents are active in both large and small markets procuring live animals. Where established markets are not present, traders visit villages and provide a valuable service to the functioning of the market. The success of a market is a direct function of the number of private traders on a given day. The movement of slaughter animals like buffalo and goats is very high during festival seasons. Price and food habits are important factors, which influence cross-border livestock trading.
The major consumption areas for livestock products are urban areas like the Kathmandu valley, Pokhara and Nepalgunj. Major meat-processing industries, which consume large quantities of meat, are in major cities. Personal incomes of the population are high which increases the demand for meat and meat products. The largest contributors to meat production are buffaloes and goats. Meat processing entrepreneurs complain about shortage of quality buffalo and pork in the market needed for production of a variety of meat products.
The domestic market for live animals is strongly influenced by trade
A large number of Indian nationals are involved in buffalo and goat marketing
by bringing livestock from
Livestock farmers complain about market information and market accessibility of their products in-country. Although there are traditional markets in Terai districts, they have no facilities like weighing scales, animal feeding, animal holding yards and veterinary services. On the other hand, a milk holiday is observed periodically. The quality of traditional livestock products like ghee and leather is not good and farmers and entrepreneurs are not getting a fair price in the competitive market. Under such circumstances, the government has to play a crucial role to improve market accessibility of livestock and livestock products through establishment of livestock marketing facilities in potential areas, product diversification and enhancement of the quality production system. The Directorate of Livestock Marketing Promotion was established in 2000 to organize and promote marketing of livestock and livestock products (see photo) at the national level. It cannot function well due to the lack of facilities, supporting staff and network within the country.
The annual growth rate of livestock products such as meat, milk and eggs
is 3.95, 2.72 and 5.04 per cent respectively which does not meet the daily
requirements and hence they have to be imported. Male buffalo calves and
goats are imported from