COMMERCIAL PRESSURE ON AGRICULTURE LAND IN KATHMANDU VALLEY

Lead Researcher: Bharat Shrestha, PhD

Supports: Sandesh Silpakar, Balram Dawadee, Roshana Poudyal

Commercial pressure on land threatens to accelerate the displacement of poor land users and exclude them from taking advantage of possible opportunities. International Land Coalition’s global assembly in Kathmandu in April 2009 declared that – land is becoming an increasingly globalised commodity, fuelled by rising demand for food and Agro fuels, for minerals, for tourism, and for ecosystem services including carbon sequestration. Resource-poor land users are facing increased competition for land with other land users, national elites and global investors. We call for urgent action to ensure transparency and disclosure in large-scale land transactions by governments and corporations. There should be full consultation of all stakeholders, particularly local land-users, in such transactions.

Impact of Commercial Pressure on Agriculture Land Can Be Well Seen In Two Ways:

First, the short term impact leading to land fragmentation, decrease in agricultural productivity in the valley, food deficit, landlessness of indigenous and aborigines of the valley people called jyapu, and price of agriculture products. Before two decades, there used to be food sufficiency and relatively stable food price in Kathmandu valley.

Second, the long term impact could be seen even more aggravated because of severe poverty, totally food dependency, labor surplus and unemployment, crime and insecurity, tension and never ending vicious chain of problems, environmental hazards, displacement of indigenous groups.  Local elites and private ventures are having easy money making business through land market. The unplanned, non-regulated land market and housing in Kathmandu valley in fact is critical.

We can explore the causal links between commercial pressures on land for housing (individual housing, commercial housing complexes, brick manufacturing) and the effects on indigenous and aborigines of the valley – Jyapu and other tenant farmers who are most vulnerable. We can link this land pressure to water resources, air pollution, solid waste management and transportation.

Taking spiralling land price as an incentive many investors are speculating with the farm land for housing. The Jyapu farmers want to retain land for farming but their farm income is not sufficient to meet their aspirations. They sell land in pieces that further decreases their farm production and need to sell more land for sustenance.

In this context of a wider global initiative on Commercial Pressures on Land (CPL), the International Land Coalition (ILC) is organizing and coordinating a collaborative research project on the impact of increasing commercial pressures on land for land-insecure users.

This research project proposal is therefore, prepared for the in depth study at the community level to generate and verify through the primary information in order to provide opportunities for the sharing and pooling of information to the government authorities, and for the commissioning of new policy designs and dialogue between and among the concerned agencies.

Primary goal of the project is to document and analyse the current trends in commercial pressures on land, as well as their existing and anticipated impacts on environment, societies and development objectives in urban area in general and particularly in Kathmandu valley of Nepal. It will also question the term of ‘opportunities’ that commercial pressures on land could possibly offer to poor land-users.

The case study will be conducted in greater Kathmandu which covers three districts of the valley. Specific objectives of the study will be to:

  • Generate both qualitative and/or quantitative information with regards to the commercial pressures on land in order to permit a clearer understanding of the causal links between them and the effects on vulnerable land users and a sustainable land and natural resource management;
  • Assess how societies, and especially local communities, currently respond to negative and positive impacts of commercial pressures;
  • Identify appropriate policy and practice responses at local, national and international levels to mitigate or prevent negative impacts and to enhance positive ones.
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