Increasing Food Security and Nutrition for Indigenous Communities in Nepal

July 17, 2014
Jacqueline HalbrendtA Chepang woman manages post-harvest processing of maize in Hyakrang village, Nepal.

The Chepang are an indigenous people in Nepal who live a semi-nomadic existence marked by hunting and gathering, fishing, and swidden agriculture, with some maize and millet terrace cultivation. They face multiple challenges including chronic and widespread food insecurity for half the calendar year and undernutrition in women and children.

The Feed the Future Sustainable Agriculture and Natural Resource Management Innovation Lab has been working with the Chepang to improve household food security and nutritional status by increasing production and consumption of plant and animal foods. To do this, the Lab introduced more sustainable mixed farming systems that promote conservation agriculture through practices like strip tillage, as well as nutrition by cultivating maize intercropped with cowpea, black gram or finger millet. These agricultural practices were paired with more sustainable livestock production and management, for example by raising animals in community pastures or forests.

The combination of cereals and legumes along with livestock production improved both the quantity and quality of the food supply for Chepang families, resulting in improved nutritional status among women and children, the most vulnerable groups within the community. The Chepang also saw improvement in the Household Dietary Diversity Index, an indicator of the quality of diet of households. Finally, the Lab also contributed to increasing family income in the community from selling agricultural products.