Gate opener policy session: Using the Livestock Master Plan (LMP) process to influence livestock sector development in Nepal
The livestock sector is essential to Nepal’s economy, contributing to the gross domestic product (GDP), employment, food security and export earnings. With appropriate investments and policy support, the sector has the potential to contribute even more to Nepal’s economic development. To spur increased investments into the sector and improvements to the enabling environment, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD) is engaging with technical and development partners to develop a livestock master plan for the country.
Building on these engagements and ongoing work between the MoALD and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), the ministry, together with the Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC), invited ILRI for a sensitization meeting on the livestock master plan (LMP) development process. Coordinated and facilitated by Padmakumar Varijakshapanicker, ILRI country representative for Nepal, the meeting discussed how the LMP would spur increased investments in the livestock sector by setting priorities and targets to fulfil Nepal’s Vision 2030 economic goals and the Agriculture Development Strategy.
The 26–28 March 2023 meeting, in Kathmandu, briefed the ministry stakeholders on the LMP development process, its data requirements and analysis procedures, and how it can inform policy improvements and be positioned to attract increased sector investments. In attendance were over 25 Nepalese partners from MoALD, the Department of Livestock Services, NARC, Agriculture and Forestry University, the private sector and other national livestock stakeholders.
Key speakers at the meeting were Ram Nandan Tiwari of MoALD, who opened the meeting, Samjhana Kafle, director general, Department Livestock Services, who spoke on the importance of the collaboration between the MoALD and the NARC and Iain Wright, deputy director general, ILRI, spoke of the importance of the LMP for leveraging and aligning public and private sector interests and investments into the sector. Deepak Jumar Kharal, secretary at MoALD, made the keynote address where he emphasized the need for Nepal’s LMP to transform the sector especially in genetic improvement, livestock feed, disease management and market access.
Habibar Rahman, regional representative for South Asia at ILRI, spoke on ‘Why livestock matter – the LMP development experience in India’ after which Sirak Bahta, senior scientist, ILRI, made a presentation on the Livestock Sector Investment and Policy Toolkit (LSIPT), which has been developed by ILRI, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the Agricultural Research Center for International Development (CIRAD). The toolkit, organized in six modules, guides governments in evaluating and estimating the livestock’s sector potential contribution to economic growth, poverty reduction, food security and nutrition and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. It also produces analyses to optimize synergies, manage trade-offs, and improve policy and investment decisions.
The process of developing an LMP was also discussed at the meeting. It involves conducting an initial participatory assessment of the sector that requires a comprehensive analysis of the livestock sector, including identifying key constraints to development and opportunities for growth. The evaluation also consists of an analysis of the policy and institutional frameworks that affect the livestock sector as well as the capacity of stakeholders to implement the necessary reforms. Once the initial assessment is completed, a ‘Coalition for Change’ is established to drive policy and institutional reforms that support the development and implementation of the LMP.
Sirak Bahta and Derek Chan explained the group exercises to the participants.
Following the introduction sessions, Sirak Bahta and Derek Chan, Value Chain Impact Assessment Modeler at ILRI, took participants through two and half days of participatory, experiential learning sessions based on LSIPT, with a focus on livestock production systems, financial analysis, livestock household economy socio-economic analysis, value chain analysis, livestock contribution to GDP, and analysing investments in the sector.
‘These activities showed the potential of the livestock master plan (LMP) approach and encouraged discussion amongst Nepali livestock decision makers in diagnosing weak points in livestock value chains and developing solutions to improve these weak points for the benefit of livestock actors,’ said Shankar Sapkota from the Ministry. During the sessions, participants engaged the presenters on questions about how the LMP fits into the broader agriculture sector strategies/plans, how to conduct robust data collection, the inclusion of the provincial and local governments in the LMP development process and contextualizing the process to ensure the thematic inclusion of the other crucial sectors, such as fisheries.
In recapping the learnings from the three workshop days, Cynthia Mugo, policy and stakeholder engagement advisor at ILRI, reiterated the LMP’s role as a roadmap for guiding investments and policy decisions to ensure the sustainable growth of Nepal’s livestock sector. Participants shared brief remarks on what they foresaw as the next steps in the process. These include: (1) improve data collection in the country, especially sector-level data, and propose coordinating sector working groups for meaningful analysis; (2) work with ILRI as a technical partner in the development of the LMP, (3) determine where development partners can be mobilized, including in the implementation of the LMP and the technical assistance they can provide; and (4) begin engaging stakeholders to develop the plan and find ways of implementing it.
The meeting was closed by Deepak Kumar Kharal, secretary at MoALD, who noted that ‘the LMP is a critical tool that provides the government with a comprehensive framework for analysing the livestock sector.’ He reaffirmed the ministry’s commitment to the process and said the ministry would lead a participatory process that will include the private sector in developing the Nepal LMP.