Capacity building of N-Agro staff to improve horticultural practices and support farmers

Tailor-made Training to i) strengthen the capacities of N-Agro, a leading prospect private company, to take a leading role in development of the horticulture sector in Nepal and ii) to provide support to the rural farming community to professionalise in horticultural production.

Private sector leading sector development

In this Tailor-made Training project, Wageningen Centre for Development Innovation (WCDI) of Wageningen University & Research (WUR), organised a training programme to strengthen the capacities of N-Agro. Considered a private horticulture business, N-Agro started as a vegetable producer and is currently developing itself into a service and knowledge provider for the horticulture sector in Nepal. N-Agro is very much involved with local rural communities, supporting them to become professional horticulture producers and building lasting relationships with them for sourcing horticultural produce.

The agricultural extension services in Nepal have limited capacity and face a major challenge to serve the majority of the rural communities. In addition, they are mostly not up-to-date with the latest information and techniques and also there are inadequate linkages among research, extension, education, farmers and other stakeholders. As a consequence, farmers have very limited possibilities to access the latest practical information and knowledge for improving farm productivity and profitability, due to which the sector remains underdeveloped. At the same time, the government acknowledges that the private sector should be encouraged to take up a more prominent role of providing extension and supporting services.

N-Agro has the aim to become an agent of change and to take a leading role in the development of the horticulture sector in Nepal. This entails the transition from traditional subsistence farming to an entrepreneurial, competitive and sustainable horticulture sector. For N-Agro to lead the sector, they need, and want, to i) develop into a leading commercial horticultural business, ii) to function as a practical horticulture knowledge and demonstration centre, and iii) to provide knowledge, information and support the rural farming community to professionalise in horticultural production. Their ultimate ambition is contributing to the development of the horticulture sector, improve livelihoods and increase food security in Nepal.

The Tailor-made Training programme was financed through EP-Nuffic’s Netherlands Fellowship Programme (NFP) and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The programme was implemented over the course of a year from November 2016 to November 2017.

Training Approach

The programme consisted of three separate training weeks spread over the time span of a year, with backstopping and regular contact in between from The Netherlands. The training design included both technical and organisation elements.

The project kicked off in November 2016 with an introduction week in Nepal, during which N-Agro shared their future vison for their business, a situation analysis and needs assessment were conducted for the Nepalese horticulture sector, and several technical and background topics were introduced by WCDI to the staff. As part of the introduction week, also a first stakeholder meeting was organised by WCDI with both public and private stakeholders present.

The second training week took place in The Netherlands in April 2017, when part of the N-Agro staff were invited for an exposure visit. During this week they were exposed to the horticulture sector in The Netherlands through visits and excursion to a broad variety of companies and stakeholders, and reflected on the horticulture sector in The Netherlands vs. the sector in Nepal. At the end of the week they returned home with their findings and new insights to further develop their technical and organisational strategy. During the same week collaborations with Dutch parties were explored. In between the second and the third week N-Agro worked on developing a Theory of Change for their business and accompanying technical and organisation action plans were developed.

The concluding training week took place in November 2017 in Nepal, during which all previous trainings activities were recapitulated and consolidated and the final action plans were presented and reflected upon. The week ended with a stakeholder workshop bringing together all the important public & private stakeholders for a discussion on the future of the horticulture sector in Nepal. N-Agro took the lead in organising and leading the workshop and afterwards the sector stakeholders acknowledged the needs and benefits of working more closely together. They all agreed on more regular similar meetings to discuss about sector issues.