Rebuilding Local Seed System of Native Crops in Earthquake Affected Areas of Nepal

Proceedings of a National Sharingshop 18 December 2017, Kathmandu

Authors: Bal Krishna Joshi and Devendra Gauchan

Year: 2017

The April 25 earthquake (with 7.6 Richter scale) and its subsequent aftershocks have had both direct and indirect impact on people’s livelihoods, agriculture and agrobiodiversity. The major effect of disaster was in remote hills and mountains where production system was rainfed, risk-prone, subsistence and people’s livelihoods depended on agriculture and biodiversity of traditional crops. According to the estimates of the Post Disaster Need Assessment (PDNA) of the Government of Nepal, the total value of direct and indirect impact of the earthquake to Nepalese economy was close to USD 7 billion, equivalent to one-third of country’s GDP. The agriculture sector suffered total damage and loss of USD 255 million, with maximum losses (86%) in mountainous and hilly areas of affected areas. The earthquake had also secondary effects triggering human and nature induced landslides, land degradation, flooding, drying up of water sources, avalanches and disease epidemics. It also have had long-term negative impact on agricultural and national development through the loss of productive labor force, infrastructure, forced outmigration and disruption in supply chains and earning potentials of people. The disaster had significant effect on the agriculture and agrobiodiversity due to destruction of storage structures, burial of stored seeds and damage of agricultural lands. An assessment of rescue collection mission carried out jointly by Bioversity International and National Genebank in 7 earthquake affected districts (Gorkha, Dhanding, Lamjung, Kavre, Nuwakot, Makawanpur, Rasuwa), revealed the loss of 104 landraces of different crops and 68 crop landraces becoming endangered from earthquake effect. Similarly a declining community and farm level richness and evenness of crop biodiversity was found in the affected areas. Increased investment in scientific agriculture and post-disaster revival of local seed system suited to affected areas of mountain agriculture and ecology is needed for rebuilding agriculture and revival of economy based on local biodiversity based livelihoods.