nepalAn institutionalized agricultural extension service in Nepal began with Indian and American support in 1951 soon after the fall of the Rana Regime, and the creation in 1955 of the Department of Agriculture (DOA) under which a fully responsible Extension Division was operational through network of zonal extension offices (Ganesh Kumar et al. 2003). Between 1966 and 1995, DOA underwent a series of reorganizations through splits and mergers to form two departments (Departments of Agriculture and the Department of Livestock and Services) under which the extension services are operating today. During these years of organized extension services, Nepal witnessed several shifts in approaches to extension from the fertilizer-based green revolution type technology extension approach based on resourceful farmers, to the World Bank T&V approach in three districts of Nepal. Most of these agricultural extension delivery models were top-down in nature, and educational programs and services were planned at the DOA or Department of Livestock Services (DLS) headquarters. At present most extension activities are planned at the district level (MEAS, 2011).


A Brief History of Public Extension Policies, Resources and Advisory Activities

 Agriculture in Nepal is unique in many ways; particularly it is blessed with the uniqueness of its diversity and climate favorable to grow almost all plant and animal species of economic importance. Socioeconomically, it is basically organized into family farms (2.7 million holdings, with average holding size of 0.96 ha), where production is still predominantly subsistent, far away from the goal of commercialization to join hands with their counterparts in the developed and fast developing economies (Ganesh Kumar et al. 2003). Nepal’s progress to improve agricultural productivity and enhance food security has been slow. A decade long (1996-2006) political unrest in the country affected the overall development, weak program and policy, particularly the weak agricultural education, research and extension system is attributed to this snail paced agricultural development.

Nepal has pluralistic extension services where the role of private sector organizations and NGOs has become synergistic to public sector interventions. His Majesty’s Government of Nepal has strongly pushed policy of entrusting most development programs to local bodies in line with Local Self-Governance Act of 1998 by devolution of responsibility and accountability. Partnership with non-governmental organizations, private sector institutions and farmer organizations is being encouraged for efficient delivery of agricultural services. Public-private partnerships are being encouraged to augment the process of technology development, technology transfer and agricultural marketing, and legal institutions facilitating such endeavors is being reviewed and acted (Ganesh Kumar et al. 2003). As a result and in addition to DOA and DLS, many Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and Community Based Organizations (CBOs) offer education and training to farmers. Private sector engagement in extension is limited but growing. Development practitioners argue for privatization of extension services as a means to enhance efficiency and speed in enhancing food security, and it is alleged that private firms, including NGOs, may offer timely delivery of agricultural input such as improved seed, pesticides, fertilizer, and farming equipment. However, considering the context in a less developed country like Nepal, there are concerned about the timely delivery of quality input services by private firms.

At the national level, Nepal public extension comprises 2,606 staff members and is managed by a team of 184 senior staff according to the MEAS report (2011). Fourteen staff member have a PhD degree and one was trained at master degree level. Women account for 8.7 percent of senior management staff.  There are 511 subject matter specialists to provide backstopping support to the field staff, one of them has a terminal degree (PhD) and 98 percent are trained at the bachelor and master degree levels. Only 7 percent of subject matter specialists are female.  Field level extension workers constitute the bulk of staff (73%), with more than 98 percent of them holding a 2 to 3 year agricultural diploma or less, and less than 8 percent are female. There are two other groups of workers: Information, Communication & Technology (ICT) Support Staff and In-Service Training Staff. The MEAS report indicated that the public sector does not employ in-service training staff and ICT support services (Table 1)

Table 1: Human Resources in the Public Extension Service in Nepal (Government or Ministry -based Extension Organization)

Major Categories of Extension Staff

Secondary School diploma

2-3 yr. Ag diploma

B.Sc. degree

M.Sc./Ing. Agr. degree

Ph.D. degree












Senior Management Staff







Subject Matter Specialists (SMS)









Field Level Extension Staff








Information, Communications & Technology (ICT) Support Staff


In-Service Training Staff


Total Extension Staff:   2,606                  











Source: IFPRI/FAO/IICA Worldwide Extension Study, 2011

Extension Providers


Major Institutions Providing Extension/advisory Services in the Country

Public Sector

The public sector is represented by the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative and two of its technical departments including the Department of Agriculture (DOA) and the Department of Livestock Services (DLS), the Tribhuvan University, other universities and research institutions around the country. These institutions provide extension services through various departments and institutes some of which are listed below:

Public Extension Institutions

  • Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative (MOAC)
    • Department of Agriculture (DOA)
      • Directorate of Agricultural Extension (DoAE)
      • Agricultural Information and Communication Center (AICC)
    • Department of Livestock Services (DLS)

Public Research and Education Institutions

  • Nepal Agricultural Research Council (NARC)
    • National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI)
    • National Animal Science Research Institute (NASRI)
  • Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training (CTEVT)
  • Tribhuvan University (TU)
    • Institute of Agriculture and Animal Sciences (IAAS)
    • Nepal Veterinary

Non-Public Sector

Private Sector Firms

In Nepal, the private sector has worked to promote extension activities in the marketing of agricultural inputs and outputs largely in isolation from public sector activities (Sharma, 2011). Private sector firms like agricultural suppliers, veterinarians and cooperatives offer quality and timely services to farmers.  Also, private service providers (Agrovets, traders/processors, contractor/consultant, etc.), and farm consultants supply improved seed, seedlings, saplings, baby chicks, fingerlings, animal feed, pesticides, and veterinary services to producers. Some Agrovets also offer artificial insemination (AI) on cattle and buffalo. In testimony to the efficiency and timely delivery of services by the private sector, the DOA and DLS see the need to eliminate positions like Junior Technician (JT) and Junior Technician Assistant (JTA) and transfer their responsibility to the private sector through contractual agreement, in order to focus on training of Local Agricultural Resource Persons (LARPs) and upgrading the technical skills of LARPs, Village Animal Health Workers (VAHWs) and Agrovets (Murari and McNamara, 2012).

Non-Governmental Organizations and other Donors

In Nepal, there are more than 5000 NGOs and dozens of I-NGOs and some technical and vocational institutes working in the country for the development of agriculture sector (Sharma, 2011). International NGOs have played very significant role in Nepalese society in a number of ways including successfully arousing consciousness and making advocacy for a number of development issues. Many national-level, not-for-profit NGOs are prominent in extending services to individual farmers, agribusiness operators, commercial producers and farmer groups. Forward Nepal, CEPREAD Nepal, PLAN Nepal, LIBIRD Nepal, and Rural Reconstruction Nepal are some NGOs who offer services to farmers and community groups. In addition, there are many district and community level NGOs/CBOs offering agriculture-related training and technical assistance to farmers (Murari and McNamar, 2011). The national level NGOs tend to utilize agricultural graduates as employees. Some of them have utilized retired extension professionals as managers of extension programs/projects, a style of operation at the district and village level for which MOAC’s field staff were not very happy with. NGOs' concern with the rural poor leads them to often maintain a field presence in remote locations, where it is difficult to keep government staff in post. They have also developed innovative dissemination methods, relying on farmer-to-farmer contact, whether on a group or individual basis. Undoubtedly, one of the main strengths of NGOs has been their work in group formation. According to Sharma (2011), NGOs in Nepal have played important role in empowerment (especially the vulnerable population), capacity building (training of extension personnel) and management (coordination of activities, monitoring, control, evaluation, feedback and reporting).  

Farmer Based Organizations and Cooperatives

The existence of strong civil society organizations in agriculture such as dairy cooperative, potato grower cooperative, and farmers groups constitute an asset in agriculture in Nepal.   Extension service under DOA has been very active in developing farmers groups and cooperatives, encouraging group approach to reach and teach farmers (MEAS, 2011). Women have also formed agricultural cooperatives, with mothers’ groups operating in many communities. Some of the cooperatives have been very successful in serving the needs of their members, specifically in marketing of farm products like milk, vegetables and seed potato. Another form of grass root organization that has existed for a long time in Nepal is the Community Based Organization (CBO). A CBO is an organization, whose activities are based primarily on volunteer efforts, that provides social services at the local level. CBOs are recognized as organizations that provide development services to grass root communities at village and district level through the mobilization of paid members or unpaid volunteers. They are rooted in the communities they serve, and sometimes are based in ethnic group, seeking benefit for a particular ethnic group (Sharma, 2011). Agricultural or livestock extension system has tremendous potential to work with these grass-roots organizations. However, policies and guidelines are lacking on how to collaborate effectively with these groups.

List of Extension Providers

icon target The following list shows an excerpt from the GFRAS Directory of Extension Providers for Nepal. Some of these entries may be specially marked for having more detailed information in the database of the Worldwide Extension Study WWES.

Enabling Environment

Enabling (or Disabling) Environment.

In spite of the difficult landscape (more than two third of land is covered by mountains and hills) and scarcity of arable land, Nepal agriculture has been striving in order to feed a population of over 30 million people. Nepal has developed the basic institutional infrastructures needed for agricultural extension services by establishing extension offices, research stations and training centers throughout the country. The government has been supportive of agricultural extension services, allocating 3 percent of the national budget to support agriculture development despite some issues related to poor communication and coordination. ICT tools (mobile phone, internet, radio and TV) are available to facilitate communication and enhance rural development. Nepal has a strong NGO network and a well-established Community Based Organization assisting the government in various development capacities.

Despite all efforts, Nepal’s progress to improve agricultural productivity and enhance food security has been slow. A decade long (1996-2006) political unrest in the country affected the overall development, weak program and policy, particularly the weak agricultural education, research and extension system is attributed to this snail paced agricultural development (Murari and McNamara, 2011). Agricultural extension service in Nepal has been stable but also stagnant. Agricultural research, education and training institutes and extension services are not linked very well.  Therefore, there is an urgent need to strengthen the research and education capacity at IAAS, CTEVT, and NARC research centers and farms. Nepal’s public extension service needs improvement.  Training of extension workers on participatory extension services, provision of timely market information to farmers and producers, strengthening supervision of extension field staff and building reward and recognition programs to motivate extension staff to deliver superior work are necessary steps the government needs to take (Murari and McNamara, 2011).  


Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for Agriculture and Extension

Information and communication technology (ICT) is used in agriculture to allow information generated by researchers to be more efficiently accessed by extension staff and transferred to farmers. The introduction of personal computers, mobile phones and internet service around the world and in Nepal is a way to employ ICT in rural development. In Nepal, the Agricultural Information and Communication Center (AICC) is charged with dissemination of new information on modern farm technologies and practices through mass media. A daily 15-minute farm radio program is broadcast on Radio Nepal at 6:40 p.m. Similarly, a daily program on national TV shows airs at 6:40pm (Murari & McNamara, 2012). Yet, the use of Internet and communication technology is very low, despite the fact that most regional and districts extension offices have access to computers. The 2009 World Bank statistics report indicated that 26 percent of the population of Nepal own and operate a mobile phone, and 2.1 percent of the population had access to internet in 2009. Although email services are infrequently used for communication, ICT tools are available for rural development in the country.  For example, all proposed Feed the Future project districts have access to modern communication media including telephone, Internet, radio and TV. Therefore, CICC has tremendous potential to serve the region if CICC staffs receive advanced training in use of ICTs and radio, TV and computer facilities are strengthened. ICTs could significantly enhance communication between extension, research and education or training organizations.


Training for Extension Professionals

Training agricultural extension professional in charge of delivering information, new methods and technology to farmers is one critical step towards improving the performance of the agricultural sector. In Nepal, formal agricultural training is provided by Tribhuvan University.  This institution provides undergraduate and graduate degree programs in various agricultural related fields including agricultural extension. In-service training of extension professional is as important as pre-service or training for college degree. According to the NARC’s strategic vision for agricultural research 2011-2030, NARC has no facilities for continuing education and training of its staff. International research and development organizations and donors have helped fill the gap by providing opportunities for some staff to pursue higher studies and access outside trainings, but these opportunities are limited (Musuri and McNamara, 2012). These authors indicated that NARC will conduct extensive training programs especially for professionals involved in agriculture development in the different departments of MOAC, other concerned ministries, nongovernmental organizations, and private sector to instill in them the knowledge and skills on promoting and  disseminating new ideas, innovations, and modifications  to modern agricultural technology.

According to Sharma (2011), in-service training is provided through the Directorate of Agricultural Training (DAT) under the Department of Agriculture (DOA). DAT has been organizing various types' in-service training courses for the gazetted officers working under the Department of Agriculture. DAT has a network of five Regional Agricultural Training Centers (RATCs) located in different development regions of the country and entrusted to run training programs for support staffs and farmers. Recently, RATCs are reoriented to offer more specialized training courses to the varying needs of farmers and support staffs tailored according to their background, interest and aptitude. The centers usually give training to around 1000 JT/JTAs and over 3000 farmers on wide range of subjects annually.


Statistical Indicators

Nepal                                 Year

Agricultural land (sq km)



Agricultural land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares)



Arable land (% of land area)



Arable land (hectares per person)



Fertilizer consumption (per ha of arable land)



Agriculture, value added (% of GDP)



Food production index (1999-2001 = 100)



Food exports (% of merchandise exports)



Food imports (% of merchandise imports)



GNI per capita, Atlas method (current US$)



Literacy rate, adult total (% of people ages 15 and above)*



Literacy rate, youth female (% of females ages 15-24)



Ratio of young literate females to males (% ages 15-24)



Ratio of female to male secondary enrollment (%)



Mobile cellular subscriptions (per 100 people)









Internet users (per 100 people)









Population, total



Population density (people per sq. km of land area)



Rural population



Rural population (% of total population)




Agricultural population* 



Agricultural population (% of total population)*



Total economically active population in Agriculture*



Total economically active population in Agriculture (in % of total economically active population)*



Female economically active population in Agriculture (% of total active in agriculture)*



Source: The World Bank, *Food and Agriculture Organization FAO



Ganesh Kumar K.C. Dalaram Pradhan Bharat P. Upadhyay Srikrishna Upadhyay. 2003. Sharing Country Agricultural Extension Experiences, Challenges and Opportunities. Paper prepared for Regional Workshop on Operationalizing Agriculture Extension Reform in South Asia, New Delhi, India. May 6, 2003

Murari, S., and P. McNamara. 2011. Strengthening the pluralistic agricultural system in Nepal. A   Report on the MEAS Rapid Scoping Mission. Final Draft Submitted to USAID/Liberia, January 4, 2012

NARC, 2010. Meeting Nepal’s Food and Nutrition Security Goals through Agricultural Science & Technology: NARC’s Strategic Vision for Agricultural Research (2011-2030)

Sharma, N. 2011. National Agricultural Extension Systems in Nepal:  An Analysis of the System Diversity. Country Paper Submitted to SAARC Agriculture Center, Dhaka, Bangladesh. August, 2011