Agricultural Extension Internship in Nepal (2017)
Updated: Mar 3, 2019
Nepalese agriculture has a lot of potential if scientific knowledge can reach small farm holders.
CABl's Plantwise program, implemented by the Plant Protection Directorate (PPD) in Nepal, is the first step for closing the gap between scientists and farmers.
I first heard about CABl's Plantwise program of plant clinics, where farmers can bring their crops and get them diagnosed with the help of trained 'plant doctors' using tablets, when I worked at CABI in 2013.
Reading about a worldwide program from brochures is rather different than seeing it in person.
In the summer of 2017, I visited Nepal and volunteered on farms in marginalised communities while staying at a traditional host family. I helped them implement organic farming technique and I also learnt a great deal about agriculture in Nepal. In my last week, I visited the Plant Protection Directorate, part of the Ministry of Agricultural Development, met with Dr Dilli Ram Sharma director, attended two days of plant doctor training, put together and created a template for a monthly newsletter for reporting diseases in Nepal, visited a plant clinic for a day and worked together with Dr Jim Correll, from Arkansas University.
In Nepal, 70% of the population is involved in agriculture.
This statistic is simple, however when working in the mountains, with poor families - growing food is their only way of survival.
We had rice for breakfast, for lunch and for dinner with mostly potatoes and chilli peppers. Nothing comes from the shop. There are few jobs, so many people spend their time looking after their plants and sleeping. My host family had showers and taps but the families I worked with had only one hose, and all the water came from a river nearby. Most of the families have lost their houses and relatives in the earthquake in 2015 and now were living in 'sheds', built from bamboo trees and metal plates.
I asked a couple of questions from Dr Dilli Ram Sharma, PPD Director about challenges and opportunities in Nepal.
What is the biggest challenge of plant protection in Nepal?
The open boarder system, instead of having plant quarantine system, is providing the opportunities for the informal trade which is associated with the peoples' daily life and their culture too. In this situation, there is always a big challenge for Nepal to manage the likelihoods of quarantine pests entry into the country. In addition to this, we have conducted many plant protection programs throughout the country especially dealing with crop problems. Management of quality advice to the farmers is another challenge for us.
Do you recommend future internships for students with scholarships to visit plant clinics/ study plant pathology?
Of course, we are always happy to welcome abroad students to our country and eager to share our experiences on what we have. We will be always happy to establish networks for the mutual benefits to each other and hope for the contribution as well as collaboration from abroad professionals. We also recommend support for our working staffs to get benefits from visiting plant clinics and other Plantwise programs around the world.
Visiting and working in Nepal has truly been an extraordinary experience that made me transfer to a new university and study Plant Biology. So, if any student has become interested in visiting Nepal, keep your eyes out for travel grants and get in touch with me or PPD to arrange visiting plant clinics!
Learn more about Plantwise: https://www.plantwise.org/KnowledgeBank/CountryHome/nepal/