Asia West Pacific

No Lock Down In Agriculture:

Nepali farmers continue their usual life in this time of corona crisis

By Subhash Chandra

A woman harvesting wheat and processing

Taking out unnecessary weeds from the paddy field

Taking care of corn plant that will become food in 3-4 months

Paddy seedling ready to transfer into field

Women carrying copost to use in the field

Preparing soil for paddy plantation

My friends have come to a realization and clearly expressed that following the safety from COVID-19, the second most important aspect for human beings today is the availability of food and vegetables. For so many, unchecked greed and wants gave rise to concerns over the accessibility and sufficiency of food and vegetables. This shed light on the value of the farmers’ hard labour and nature’s abundance to fulfil everyone’s needs, which had been over-shadow by ever-increasing blind consumerism and industrialization.

Nepal is mostly an agricultural economy. Subsistence farming continues to uphold the national economy. Several thousands of subsistence farmers, small farm holders in the country receive very little support from the Government. Hundreds of thousands of agricultural labourers continue to face multi-generational injustice. Despite that, they continue to be the major force for agricultural production.

The world is in lockdown. Almost everything in Nepal is in lockdown. Industries, stock markets, big shopping centres are closed. However, there is no lockdown in agriculture, at least not in Nepal. Farmers continue to go to their nearby fields, sow seeds, water plants, harvest yield, and prepare soil for planting of the next crop. Cooperation, laughter, earth care and the most important service to humanity, continues/goes on without a trace of pride. Physical work clearly maintains physical health with little chance of getting bored and frustrated, breathing fresh air and listening to the pleasant chirping of birds.

The Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC), National Land Rights Forum (NLRF), our friends and partners in Nepal, are using social media platforms to highlight this reality. Since 12 April, Sristi Shrestha from CSRC have published a series of daily posts, tagged against #NoLockDownInAgriculture. At times, Sristi posts several times a day. Using brief introductions and complemented with photographs, these posts depict farmers and agricultural workers from various parts of the country, staying involved in their work-as-usual.

Jagat Deuja, CSRC’s Executive Director who coined #NoLockDownInAgriculture is also a  lifetime agricultural reform activist. Jagat stated, “There is no reason and need to stop agricultural work; rather this is the time to appreciate the farmer’s role. The only way to respond to and avoid possible global hunger for now and in future is to continue and promote agricultural work.” This is also a time to ask where the food and vegetables on our dining tables and plates come from, who grows and brings them here, and how are they produced? Farmers certainly deserve proper and more acknowledgement, support and appreciation. 

Note: these photos were taken at different dates by different people during the last week. I think it is appropriate to credit Sristi Shrestha, CSRC Nepal because she provided these to me.