ROLE OF HORTICULTURE IN POVERTY ALLEVIATION IN NEPAL: AN EXPERIENCE BASED ON MICRO-ENTERPRISE DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME (MEDEP) IN NEPAL
Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world but has abundant resources for economic development. In Nepal still 25.2 percent people are living below the absolute poverty line (NRs. 19.261). One of the poverty alleviation programmes of government of Nepal is Micro-Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) a joint initiative with Government of Nepal. After piloting in ten districts in the first phase (1998-2003) the results of MEDEP for poverty alleviation were found to be effective and government and UNDP recognized it as Micro-Enterprise Development (MED) Model. MEDEP started creating micro-entrepreneurs in various sectors whichever is potential in any particular location by identifying market demand of the first and then promoting the most potential enterprises there. Its established six circle model was then adapted by Government Nepal at Village Development Committee (VDC), Municipality, District Development Committee (DDC) and at the centre in Ministry of Industry in 2008/09. Since then Government of Nepal has been replicating it gradually and covered 69 districts with its resources and is planning to cover all 75 district by end of 2017. Among more than 150 different kinds of enterprises under seven categories (Industrial policy 2010) such as Agro and Forest Based, Artisan (Handicraft) Based, Service Based, Construction Based, Information and Communication Technology Based, Tourism Based and others that need special permission for establish Agro Based particularly Horticulture Based enterprises have been found friendly to poor people and has played significant role in poverty alleviation.
As of end of September MEDEP has promoted more than 75,000 microentrepreneurs (Annual Report, MEDEP 2015) and among about 55 percent are Agro Based enterprises. About 60 percent of 55 percent Agro Based enterprises are horticulture based such As Strawberry Production and Production Processing, Apple Processing, Riverbed Farming, Off-Season and Seasonal Vegetable Production and Marketing, Honey Production and Processing, Vegetable Seeds Production and 272 Processing, Pear Processing, Plum Processing, Mushroom Production and Processing, etc. The rest of agro based enterprises are dairy, food processing and meat processing. Out them about 5,632 horticulture based micro-entrepreneurs were sampled and field survey were also conducted to verify these data and analysed. The results show that the average total average annual production cost of six horticulture products was NRs. 74,065,311 (US $ 740,653 approx.). The average annual sales value was NRs. 168,739,589 (US $ 1,687,395 approx.) with net average annual income of NRs. 85,647,029 (US $ 856,470 approx.). The average per capita income (PCI) before joining MEDEP was NRs. 8,092 (US $ 81 approx.). With the change in the annual net income their PCI has increased to NRs. 35,978 (US $ 360 approx.) which is significant change in the income status of the Poor and Socially excluded families. They have been able to create employment to 28,978 persons and about 33,993 persons (entrepreneur and her/his family members) have been able to move out of poverty.