Ramesh Sunam is a PhD student at the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University, Canberra. His research interests include poverty, social exclusion, agrarian change, and forest governance. He has published articles in Society and Natural Resources, International Forestry Review, and Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies.
Keshab Goutam is a PhD student at the Fenner School of Environment and Society, Australian National University, Canberra. His main research interests include forest governance, climate change, and land politics.
Discourses on peasant agriculture have heightened in the context of recurrent food crisis and persistent poverty in Nepal as in many parts of the global South. Although an industrialized model of agriculture has been promoted as a pathway to a food-secure future, it has been heavily criticized for being environmentally destructive and socially unbearable. In this broader context, we examine peasant farming to explore enabling factors and barriers for its revitalization in Nepal, where the vast majority of rural people depends on farming for their livelihoods. This research draws on case studies of two agrarian villages characterized mainly by the subsistence nature of farming systems, but with one of them having significant prospects for commercial agriculture. While scholars are increasingly acknowledging peasant agriculture as a viable approach to ensure food security and a sustainable future, this article shows that peasants are unlikely to continue such practices given the local and global challenges created by outmigration of laborers, neoliberal policy of the government, and diminished attraction of farming to young people. We suggest that these challenges should be addressed through reframing agricultural discourse and policy.
The authors would like to thank all of the contributors to the workshop on ‘Climate Change Mitigation with Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples: Practices, Lessons Learned and Prospects’ held from 26-28 March 2012 in Cairns, Australia. Their comments helped to improve the quality of this paper. The authors are also deeply grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their highly insightful comments and suggestions. Many thanks to Sienna R. Craig and Mark Turin, the journal editors, for all their support and suggestions.
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Sunam, Ramesh K. and Goutam, Keshab R.. 2015. Agrarian Future(s) of Rural Nepal: Revitalizing Peasant Agriculture?. HIMALAYA 35(1).
Available at: https://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/himalaya/vol35/iss1/12