Nepal is not an “easy to do business” country, at least according to various world standards. Generally, fluid political climate, militant labour force and insecurity of private property are regarded as major hinderances against Nepal’s economic growth.
Let us consider barriers to agribusiness in particular. Although not because of external hindrances, a career in agriculture is seen as a backward and rural choice, not modern or even high earning. Farmer’s don’t want their son or daughter to be farmer too. They would rather have a doctor or engineer or some other career oriented child. These farmers became farmers by default, because they did not have opportunity to go to school and get education to choose a different career, so they had to work in the family farm and grow food to support their families.
In recent days, with the help of internet and global access to new information and education about farming, some enthusiastic young people are being attracted to this old profession. The fact that more than 60% of Nepali people are farmers, yet Nepal has to import almost all of the foodstuff to sustain itself does not sit well with any thinking person. So the most entrepreneurial ones try to start a farming enterprise themselves.
Unfortunately, there are a number of factors working against an entreprising farmer today. There is woeful lack of goods and professional services available to farmers. Feed industry, veteranerary services with doctors, medicines and hospitals, access to financing and insurance, modern machines and technology, research and lab facilities, educational opportunities are just some of the examples of goods and services industry that have yet to develop fully in support of agri-business.
There are also some broad categories of services that government needs to provide for economy in general and agribusiness in particular, such as personal and industrial security, policy clarity. favourable tax and duty treatment, etc.
Basic infrastructure development is very important for agriculture commercialization. Road, irrigation, electricity, communication, market etc. are all very essential. The roads development continues to make great impact on peoples’ lives in Nepal. As soon as a road track opens to a previously isolated village, transport entrepreneurs start providing cartage services for the goods produced in that village. Removing centuries old isolation brings about profound changes in that village and surrounding areas.
One bright spot in agro industry is the establishment of thousands of cooperatives focussed in core farming as well as supporting industries. Cooperatives are suitable for a large farm or industry because a rural household usually does not have the required capital or large enough land area to start a viable entreprise on its own. Pooling of land, capital and labour in a collective industry provides employment along with increased financial return to a person’s investment. And over time, the truly successful ones may be able to make a big impact on local, regional or even national economy.
When we think about it from an entrepreneurial perspective, all the lack of agri-industry support is actually the oppertunities for individuals to provide for farmers, and initiate and develop highly profitable and successful industies around the agricultural industry.
It can be assumed that rural businesses severely lack access to services (as mentioned earlier) such as banking and loans, insurance, healthcare, education and training, industry supplies, trained manpower, experts and technicians, etc. This is true for agribusiness as well as many other businesses. One area of opportunity, especially from rural sector is that rural eenterprises need high amount of support from qualified management personnel who are experts in agribusiness management. This is a growth area for management experts and students to consider.
Rather than barriers, I see a lot more opportunities for entrepreneurs to work in this industry. The choices are endless: growing fruits and vegetables, rearing cows, goats, buffaloes, etc. There are other huge potentials in the support industry: education, consulting, management, storage, transportation, processing, branding, marketing, retailing, and all the others mentioned earlier.
This is truly a remarkable opportunity to make big contribution to Nepal’s development.