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LAND ISSUES IN NEPAL. A presentation by Jagat Basnet & Dr. Jagnnath Adhikari Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC). National Data. 10% of the rural population are absolutely landless 5% rich people holds 37% arable land

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A presentation by Jagat Basnet & Dr. Jagnnath Adhikari

Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC)

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National Data

  • 10% of the rural population are absolutely landless

  • 5% rich people holds 37% arable land

  • Over half (58%) of the rural population are functionally landless, with holdings too small even for subsistence requirements (<0.5 ha)

  • Over 85% of farmers are land poor (<1 ha)

  • 30% of rural households are unregistered tenants ( Estimated1.5 million households)

  • 48% of Dalit* households are landless; only 6% Chhetri/Thakuri/Brahman** are landless

    *Lowest caste**Highest castes

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Over Worked



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Critical Issues land is landless/share cropping

  • Absentee Landlordism

    • Long history in Nepal with no signs of declining

  • Share cropping/unregistered tenancy

    • Remains the dominant agricultural system

  • Trust/Guthi land(est.100,000 ha)

    • Guthi tenants highly vulnerable to abuse

    • Tiller families suffer malnutrition and hunger despite being the producers for the Guthi owners

  • Semi-bonded labor systems (Haliya, Haruwa/Charuwa)

    • Widespread despite being outlawed in 2002

    • Affects an estimated 100,000 families

  • Fallow land

    • Landlords leave their land idle for fear of tenancy claims

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Critical Issues land is landless/share cropping

  • Declining productivity

    • Result of failed tenancy reform

    • Those cultivating have no ownership; those with ownership do not cultivate

  • Centralized land administration system

    • No access for poor farmers; the courts are for the rich

  • No land for the real tillers

    • Land for landlords; Land for political victims; Land for elites in the name of industry (but used for other purposes)

  • The state is only interested in reforming the administration system not in real land reform

  • Biased understanding

    • Confiscation and redistribution: Over-simplification and fear-mongering by elites

    • Only consider the property rights of the rich not the poor

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Government Efforts land is landless/share cropping

  • 1951 land reform initiated

    • First elected government eliminated birtha* system but land owning elites remained in control

  • 1964 Land Act: King Mahendra’s initiative

    • Benefited landlords rather than tillers

  • 1990 Jaganath Acharya* promoted land reform and was swiftly removed from office

  • 1996 Badal Commission Report

    • Reforms never implemented, despite many opportunities

      * System of land grants to royal favorites** Nepali Congress Minister

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Government Efforts land is landless/share cropping

  • 2001 Deuwa government reduced land ceilings but overruled by the Supreme Court

  • 2002 law to liberate Kamaiyas (bonded laborers)

    • Many still not freed

  • 2008 The Maoist-led government formed a new high-level Land Reform Commission

    • Pledged to end feudal control over land

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Way Forward land is landless/share cropping

  • First we must recognize and register tenants’ rights to dual ownership;

    only then can we end the dual ownership system and register secure tenancy rights

  • Land zoning: Agricultural land must be for agriculture

  • Joint ownership of land for women and men

  • Land for surplus production not only subsistence

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Way Forward land is landless/share cropping

  • Campaign on land and agriculture literacy

    • Agricultural schools, technical skills,

      literacy campaigns

  • Legal rights for indigenous people

  • Link land reform policy with growth and development

  • Community-based approach

    • Land redistribution and ownership

    • Agricultural inputs

    • Devolution of land administration

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Conclusions land is landless/share cropping

  • Unequal land distribution is the result of Nepal’s feudal power structure and food deficit

  • The state’s role is to formulate pro-poor and tiller-friendly land policies.The real land reform implementers must be the tillers in their own communities

  • Community approach not market led neo-liberalism

  • The rights of the tillers must be protected in Nepal’s new Constitution

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Recent concern on land land is landless/share cropping

Jagannath Adhikari

One of the main aspects in peace process, and also essential for sustainable peace.

Access to land linked to poverty reduction and social-political inclusion for land-dependent communities.

Recent problems in food security

Contemporary issues related to land - globalization, climate change and foreign investment on land.

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Nepal: Land dependency and scarcity land is landless/share cropping

Jagannath Adhikari

A basis for main source of livelihood for a large majority.

Skewed distribution - historical reason .. .

Access determined mainly by hereditary rights, land reform is, thus, necessary.

Unequal access linked with every day form of violence.

Sustainable peace will be enhanced after securing the rights to land for the poor land dependent communities.

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Access to land (defining land) land is landless/share cropping

Jagannath Adhikari


types of



All need to

be consider-


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Access to land and food security land is landless/share cropping

  • Vulnerability to food security growing.

  • Price rise and food problems last year was a case in point.

  • Access to land (whatever it is) for farmers helps to improve food security.

Jagannath Adhikari

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. land is landless/share cropping

  • Nepal surplus producer in the past, now is dependent on food imports (partly because cultivators do not have access to land)

  • Depending on weather condition – 40-56 districts (out of 75) cannot produce sufficient food.

Jagannath Adhikari

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. land is landless/share cropping

  • Women, Dalits and some indigenous people, and their children suffer from malnutrition.

  • Women access to land is vital for family’s food security in general.

  • In places in Nepal where women’s access to land (ownership and effective control) is poor, malnutrition is also high even if production is high.

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Contemporary issues - Globalization land is landless/share cropping

Jagannath Adhikari

  • Still not directly impacted by globalization, but will have impact soon.

  • Impact is seen through India (eg hybrid seeds are coming from there)

  • Some impact is seen in land use types (like edible oil from MNC is helping to replace local oil-seed crops.

  • Main impact now is seen through labor migration, absence of labor from farming and its impact on land tenure – land renting practices have increased.

  • Control of MNCs on agriculture and food chain has increased generally – small farm families are in problem.

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Climate change land is landless/share cropping

Nepal highly affected by climate change

impact on land use,

Lower productivity

Increased floods and natural disasters

Reduced water availability during critical times for the crops and for people.

Poor and Women more affected.

High mountain area’s food insecurity is growing because of climate change.

Jagannath Adhikari

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FDI on land land is landless/share cropping

Foreign Investment on land

  • Not much of a problem now, but likely. In future.

  • It might take more land meant for distribution through land reform

  • Could lead to environmental problems.

Jagannath Adhikari

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Way Forward land is landless/share cropping

Land, water and forest should all be considered in land reform programs.

At the national level - emphasis on food self-sufficiency should go hand in hand with land reform or securing rights to land.

Negative consequences of globalization and climate change receive urgent attention from international agencies.

Jagannath Adhikari

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Way forward… land is landless/share cropping

  • Foreign investment on land should not compete with farmers’ access to land, water and other resources and should not hamper local food security and environmental conservation.

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On behalf of the poor farmers of Nepal land is landless/share cropping Thank You