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  Riverbed Farming
Riverbed Farming

Brief Background

The number of landless and land-poor people in Nepal is high and increasing. The National Bureau of Statistics in Nepal suggests that 25% of the population are landless.

Many people have been moving from the hills to the Tarai. The reasons for migration are many-fold: the available land for cultivation is getting smaller as farms are divided among children, environmental impacts on the land, growing poverty and, during conflict time, political pressure on individuals and families.

People moving to the Tarai now often have to settle as squatters. They find it increasingly difficult to obtain land for cultivation.
Landless and land-poor make their living as farm labourers in the district, or they migrate to India in search of work. The vast majority of landless live below the poverty line.

Riverbed Farming

Vast tracks riverbeds are dry and fallow during the period from October to May. It is common land under the responsibility of village authorities. The land is fertile, yet it is currently not used.

The main objective of the riverbed farming project is to develop a system through which landless and land-poor people gain access to riverbeds during the dry season. They are able to cultivate horticultural products, link up with local and regional markets and generate thereby income.
Helvetas is supporting the Ministry of Local Development and the District Administrations for the development of a National Riverbed Farming Strategy.


  • Local authorities and groups of landless and land-poor sign leasehold contracts providing access to riverbeds for horticultural activities exclusively to landless and land-poor people;

  • Around 2,000 landless and land-poor households engage in seasonal cultivation of horticultural products in dry riverbeds;

  • Sale of the products reach 400-600 USD per household in a 5 months cultivation period;

  • Local Service Providers offer competent training and technical services on demand to groups of riverbed farmers;

  • Piloting of a flood damage insurance.


Helvetas operated a small pilot initiative in riverbed farming in 2007 and 2008, including around 1000 households in Far Western Districts of the Tarai.
After winning the Development Marketplace 2008 of the World Bank with a proposal on Riverbed Farming, Helvetas was able to expand its activities during the cultivation season 2008 / 2009 and support 2200 landless and land-poor households in Kailali and Kanchanpur District in their effort to take up riverbed farming.

A leasehold contract has been developed by Kailali and Kanchanpur DDC with support from Helvetas.
Around 80 producer groups have signed leaseholds with VDCs, assuring them the right to cultivated a specific area of dry riverbed for the coming three years.
Helvetas has supported the training of 20 Local Resource Persons who are now in the field and advising landless and land-poor on how to produce vegetables in dry riverbeds.
Local marketing agents have been linked with wholesalers and they facilitate profitable sales of vegetables by producers.


The project works in close partnership with DDCs and District Agricultural Offices


DfID: CHF 115,000 (2008 / 2009 cultivation season)
World Bank (Development Market Place 2008): USD 200.000
DDCs: CHF 12,000

CONTACT DETAILS                                                                                                                    

Elamplus Programme
Bhaibedi-2, Bhangadhi, Kailali

Tel: + 977 91-521038

Fax: + 977 91- 520861

E - mail:


 Copyright 2006 Helvetas Nepal.