FORWARD Nepal recently completed USAID Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Horticulture South Asia Regional Workshop jointly with Agriculture and Forestry University (AFU), Nepal and other agricultural stakeholders (Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development MoALD); Nepal, Agricultural Research Council (NARC); Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) Bangladesh Agriculture University (BAU), SAARC Agricultural Center (SAC) and in collaboration with private sectors of both Nepal and Bangladesh at Hotel Himalaya, Kupandol, Lalitpur. The three days (September 12-14, 2022) workshop was funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and supported by the University of California at UC Davis. This workshop was intended to identify sector-wise challenges and potential opportunities for horticultural crops in the South/Southeast Asia region and prioritize areas for future research to be undertaken by local organizations.
Vice-Chancellor of Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal, Professor Dr. Punya Prasad Regmi chaired the first day's opening session, while Chief Guest was honored by Prof. Dr. Naba Raj Devkota, Vice-Chancellor of Gandaki University, Nepal. Special Guests in the program were Professor Dr. Kalyani Mishra Tripathi, Chairman, Service Commission AFU, Professor Dr. Elizabeth Mitcham from UC-DAVIS, Director of Horticulture Innovation Lab, Prof. Dr. Surya Kant Ghimire, Chartered Registrar AFU, Prof. Dr. William Vance Baird, MSU Horticulture Department Chair, Dr. Janelle Beth Larson, Associate Prof Agri Economics Penn State Berks, Prof. Dr. Nanda Joshi, Michigan State University USA, Jason Seuc. EG Director, USAID, and Mr. Nabin Hada USAID/Nepal. Likewise, Professor Dr. Md Rezaul Karim, Bangladesh Agriculture University, Bangladesh, Dr. Ferdouse Islam, Prof. Jay Prakash Dutta, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture, AFU, Prof. Dr. Balram Kumar Bhatta, Dean of Faculty of Forestry, Prof. Bhargab Dhital, Dean, IAAS, TU, Prof. Dr. Arjun Kumar Shrestha, Director, Directorate of Research and Extension (DOREX), Prof. Dr. Durga Devkota Chairperson and Mr. Netra Pratap Sen, Executive Director of FORWARD Nepal were also the present as guest in the program.
During the workshop, Professor Dr. Durga Devkota, Chairperson of FORWARD Nepal welcomed all participants from the USA, Bangladesh, and Nepal whereas Prof. Dr. Elizabeth Mitcham, Director of the Horticulture Innovation Lab, highlighted the workshop's objective. Similarly, Professor Arjun Kumar Shrestha highlighted the current status of horticulture in South/South East Asia. Likewise, Mr. Nabin Hada from USAID Nepal has suggested collaborating with all the sectors of the government of Nepal, research institutes, universities and private sectors to screen the major challenges, opportunities, and way forward in horticulture sectors in South Asian countries. Chief guest Prof. Naba Raj Devkota concluded that this workshop is an opportunity to get research funds for the development of the Horticulture sector. The program's Chairman Prof. Punya Prasad Regmi said that AFU is open to collaborating with international partners for horticulture research and development.
Thematic papers were presented in 18 priority areas followed by group discussion. During the closing ceremony on September 14, chartered Vice–Chancellor Professor Dr. Kailash Nath Pyakuryal of AFU chaired as a special guest, shared his learning experiences with USAID and suggest to develop an evidence-based proposal to proceed ahead. Dr. Santa Karki, Deputy Director General, praised the organizer as the program was effective and timely completed. Joint secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture Development Mr. Basu Dev Kaphle expressed commitment to work together. Farmer’s representative Ms. Rita Bastakoti said she got the opportunity to learn about status, scope and future pathways of horticulture from those papers presented and in this workshop. She suggested developing programs for small and women farmers as most of the farmers are smallholders with a significant contribution to GDP. Nepal Horticulture Society Treasurer Mr. Sanjay Dhimal urged for a quality report publication as an output of this seminar which helps to draft a horticultural development program in Nepal.