Achyut Luitel is the Practical Action Nepal Director Achyut is trained as a Civil Engineer and has over two decades of experience in the development sector, including the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and Helvetas. During this time he has gained practical knowledge in many different kinds of rural infrastructure programmes. He was part of the core team involved in the design of DFID's transport and livelihood programme (Rural Access Programme) between 2000 and 2001, leading this team until early 2006 when he joined Practical Action as the Country Director, Nepal in March 2006. He feels that having the opportunity to work at Practical Action is quite a unique and exciting experience. He likes the people centred approach, using technology to fight poverty. He also feels that Practical Action always offers a learning environment and encourages people to come up with ideas which can change people's lives in a meaningful way.
Posts by Achyut
Usually we have agricultural interventions in most of the development projects. In the Water and Sanitation Sector, which used to be one of my initial engagements in the development sector, we used to promote kitchen gardening from the waste water coming out of community tap stands. This was quite unique as women could sell some vegetables and make some money which was helpful in raising their status both at household and community level.
Practical Action is quite unique as we apply different kinds of technology to help poor people to reduce drudgery and make some incomes to fight poverty. We have a number of agricultural initiatives within other programme areas, mostly in the vegetable sector. We have introduced better inputs, technologies, promoted off season varieties, and linked them with markets. They have yielded results and created impacts. This has always encouraged me. However, last week when I visited our project site in the eastern part of the country, I felt truly excited.
I visited a number of sugarcane and rice demonstration plots at the IFC funded Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) sites in Sunsari district. In both rice and sugarcane sector, we are working with lead firms who should take over the project after a couple of years.
I could see young trainers who graduated from Rampur Agriculture College only a year ago, confidently training the local farmers and providing tips to enhance productivity. We observed it in the demonstration plots and the technical expert who was visiting the site with me claimed that the sugarcane of these demonstrated plots are expected to yield at least 50 per cent more than the conventional ones. That was quite encouraging. However, with the only sugar factory’s monopoly and the government’s inability to fix the annual rate of sugarcane on time, the farmers are not getting payment on time. That really frustrates them.
I was more excited with the rice demonstration plots with flood resilient and climate resilient varieties. Some four varieties of Directly Seeded Rice (DSR) were ready to harvest and the grains (and panicles) looked healthy. Our Rice Technical Expert told me that the yield is better than the average and plantation cost is much lower (at least Rs 10,000 less per hectare compared to the conventional practices). However, this requires some additional skills and our extension workers can do it quite easily with a number of farmers.
This excited me as it looks like a feasible alternative to conventional transplanted puddled rice (TPR) that requires less water, reduces labour requirement, mitigates green-house gas (GHG) emission and adapts to climatic risks. The yields are comparable with transplanted rice if crop is properly managed. Unlike the conventional method, which is also called TPR, the plantation should be done with a machine which is not costly at all. As the country is facing labour shortage due to out migration, this technology can really offer lot of opportunities to the farmers. If the state promotes this technology, this can also contribute to address the current food insecurity issues. It can also offer response to current climate change implications.
It is always a motivation to see new initiatives being implemented that can possibly make a difference in the lives of the poor people. And, the visit this time really excited me to do something more of this kind.No Comments » | Add your comment
I was about to leave a social function at 6:30pm yesterday (Sunday), when the ground started trembling. I realised that it was an earthquake, so I guided all in the room to kneel down near the door and cupboards.
Once we felt that it was all over, we all ran outside. I started ringing my wife at home, but the mobile was not working so I rushed home. When I reached home, my wife told me she ran out in an open area as soon as she noticed that it was a quake. However, my kids were very smart. They did not come out of the house but instead covered their head and stayed calm under a big table until the tremor was gone. This was what they were taught in their school.
It was an earthquake measuring 6.9 Richter scale with the epicentre somewhere in the east near the Nepal and India border. The news reported that 21 people were severely injured, 68 people injured and over 200 houses were damaged in eight districts. The tremor was felt across 20 districts of Nepal. Three people were killed in Kathmandu after a wall of the British Embassy collapsed over a car and motorbike.
Nepal has been ranked as the 11th most earthquake-prone country in the world. In terms of human casualty risk, Kathmandu is billed as the most risk-prone area in the world.
The Practical Action Nepal Office is working to reduce disaster risk, but it is mostly in the field of community based disaster risk reduction and mainly floods and landslides. Practical Action has worked with communities in Peru to build earthquake-resistant houses. Now it is high time to get engaged in earthquake preparedness in Nepal as well, which could come up in our next strategy.1 Comment » | Add your comment
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