CICERO - Center for International Climate Research

National specialization policy versus farmers’ priorities: Balancing subsistence farming and cash cropping in Nepal

Nina Holmelin

The Nepali Government is currently implementing policies for a radical agricultural transformation into large-scale, mechanized, specialized and commercial farming. However, the peasants prioritize diversified subsistence production of resilient and versatile food crops and regard cash crops only as a supplement. Cash cropping represents a potentially profitable income source but involves risk. Complete agricultural commercialization would jeopardize household and community food security, weaken trust- and reciprocity-based social mechanisms for exchanging food and labour, and break with traditions. Peasants’ motivations for balancing subsistence and market production are multiple and interrelated because their economic pursuits are deeply embedded in social and cultural structures.

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