COVER ISSN 0254-6019
Sustainable livestock production in the mountain agro-ecosystem of Nepal


Edited by
J.B. Abington

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries.

ISBN 92-5-103273-4

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Publications Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

Rome, © FAO 1992

Hyperlinks to non-FAO Internet sites do not imply any official endorsement of or responsibility for the opinions, ideas, data or products presented at these locations, or guarantee the validity of the information provided. The sole purpose of links to non-FAO sites is to indicate further information available on related topics.





Map of Nepal

Chapter 1 Introduction - The Country of Nepal
by J.B. Abington

Chapter 2 Agro-ecosystem of the Mid-hills
by R.K. Shrestha

Chapter 3 Problem Identification and Approach to Sustainable Development
by J.B. Abington and N.J.L. Clinch

Chapter 4 The Role of Large Ruminants
by B.R. Joshi

Chapter 5 The Role of Small Ruminants
by S.C. Ghimire

Chapter 6 The Role of Monogastric and Small Stock
by T.S. Dhaubhadel

Chapter 7 Fodder and Forage Production
by K.C. Paudel and B.N. Tiwari

Chapter 8 Implication of Forage and Livestock Production on Soil Fertility
by K.C. Paudel

Chapter 9 Conclusions
by J.B. Abington and N.J.L. Clinch


J.B. Abington
Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre
c/o BTCO
P.O. Box 106


J.B. AbingtonDirector, Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre.
B.R. JoshiChief Veterinary Officer, Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre.
R.K. ShresthaChief, Forestry/Pasture Section, Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre.
T.S. DhaubhadelLivestock Production Officer, Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre.
K.C. PaudelForestry Officer, Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre.
B.N. TiwariFodder Production Officer, Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre.
S.C. GhimireCentre Veterinary Officer, Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre.
N.J.L. ClinchAssociate Professional Officer, Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre.


Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre is funded by the Overseas Development Administration of the British Government, and works in close co-operation with His Majesty's Government of Nepal. The support of both the Government is gratefully acknowledged.

The author would like to thank all those organizations within Nepal that provided information for this Monogragh, and to acknowledge technical staff at Lumle whose direct and indirect contributions have been instrumental in the preparation of this document. The hard work of the administrative and clerical staff is also very much appreciated. Special thanks go to the FAO Representative in Nepal, Mr S.S. Mahdi for his support and assistance.

Mr S.D. Mack of the Animal Production Service, FAO, Rome went through the manuscript and did the final editing and formatting of the document.


Nepal is a country of extremes. Within its borders are contained some of the most diverse variations of landform and climate to be found anywhere in the world. Although between its southern and northern borders, the horizontal distance averages only some 150km, in this short span, the altitude varies from a mere 50m above sea level to the highest point on earth Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha) at 8848m. In association with this, the climate changes from subtropical to permanent snow and ice, and rainfall ranges from less than 500mm per annum to over 5500mm. As a consequence, an almost infinite number of ecological situations can be found which are exploited by an equally varied range of plant and animal species under natural conditions.

Superimposed upon this diversity of physiography is a heterogeneity of peoples, which reflects the history of a country which has been the thoroughfare for numerous migrations, invasions and trading between the subcontinent of India to the south, and the hinterland of China to the north over many centuries. The social structure and customs of the communities which inhabit the hills, valleys and plains of present day Nepal are a direct response to this mingling of populations, and are as equally varied as the ethnic backgrounds from which they have been derived.

Over time, the people who settled in the hills and mountains, have created agrarian systems to cope with the need to derive a livelihood from some of the harshest environments in the world. Though appearing at first sight simple, the subsistance agriculture of the hill and mountain regions of Nepal is in fact complex, intensive, and consists of highly interactive relationships between crops, livestock and the natural forest. Until recently the whole process was sustainable within the prevailing ecosystem, but evidence now points to an increasing imbalance between the various components.

These changes now occurring to the traditional practices are a manifestation of the fact that within the past forty years, Nepal itself has undergone transformations of a social, economic and political nature that have had profound effects upon the land and its people. In this time, the human population has more than doubled, the country has opened its international borders, and within the last two years, the political system has changed from autocracy to democracy. The effect of these socioeconomic changes is leading to a reformation in the attitudes of the people, influencing social values, beliefs, and customs, which in turn affects traditional farming practices.

The purpose of this monograph is to examine the extent to which the agricultural systems of the hills and mountains of Nepal are coming under stress, and degradation of the natural resources is occurring. Particular attention is paid to the role of livestock within the traditional system, and the objective is to determine the constraints which presently limit productivity, and whether in the longer term livestock production can be increased, and the increase sustained.

Its content is based largely upon the experiences gained at Lumle Regional Agricultural Research Centre, which is situated in the mid-hills of the Western Development Region of Nepal. For the past two decades, this project has been involved in implementing agricultural research, extension and training programmes to support and improve the practices of the smallholder farmers of the districts for which it has a responsibility.

It is hoped that the systems described, the concerns voiced, the examples given, and the ideas that are proposed, will prove to be of benefit to agricultural scientists, extension agents and trainers working in similar domains elsewhere.

J.B.Abington - Editor

Map Of Nepal