Learn and Earn Program



Nepal is an agro-based country with many diverse geographies and ethnicities. Divided between the Himalayas, the hills and the Terai (plainlands), 67 per cent of the total population is engaged in agriculture and related activities. The agriculture sector, hence, contributes 28 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the country. Still the major source of livelihood for more than 80 per cent of Nepal’s total population, the land remains highly cultivable. In fact, the nation houses high-yielding varieties (HYVs) of agricultural crops, which produces a higher crop yield per hectare due to improved response to fertilizers. However, this has not been taken advantage of. 

 

Most agricultural produce, like livestock products and vegetables, are imported from India or Bangladesh. Investing in commercializing agriculture will, hence, boost Nepal’s economic growth. The Nepal government has acknowledged this and has prioritized the increase of productivity in agriculture. The challenge, and the main reason for low agriculture productivity, is the lack of adequate irrigation facilities and modern technologies to replace traditional farming practices. In addition, the largest demographic of people in Nepal is youth. However, incentives for youth to engage in agriculture have been nearly nonexistent. 

Considering this, Sana Kisan Bikas Laghubitta Bittiyasanstha Ltd. (SKBBL) collaborated with the Embassy of Israel in Nepal to send students to Israel to participate in an agricultural training program, which combines academic and practical work at colleges/institutes and farms. Their primary objective is to offer an opportunity to these youth to learn about modern farming practices, so that they can start or grow their own agricultural businesses upon returning to Nepal. 

The Small Farmer Agriculture Training Program

The program has been implemented by SKBBL and the Israeli Embassy in Nepal to attract youth to farming by providing basic knowledge and skills for its commercialization. To be eligible, you need to be between 22 and 30 years old, (family of) a member of a Small Farmer Agriculture Cooperative Ltd. (SFACL). The program duration is 10 to 11 months, and enables students to be trained at different colleges and research centres in Israel. 

The training program enables students to do practical work on the farm based on the lessons learned from theoretical classes. For their work on the farm, they receive a salary. Hence the name the “Learn and Earn Programme.”

Participants in the program are expected to undertake an entrepreneurial activity related to the modern agricultural technologies and practices they learned about in Israel upon returning to Nepal. Their successes will serve as examples to other farmers and motivate youth to follow their footsteps. It is in this way that the Learn and Earn Programme will have a meaningful and positive impact on Nepal’s agriculture sector.

Eligibility Criteria for Youth Participants

  • Participants need to have turned 22 years old by the end of the current fiscal year and must not exceed 30 years old.

  • A participant is eligible only if they are (a family member of) an SFACL member.

    • A family member includes: son, daughter, grandson, granddaughter, sister in law, or brother in law of the family) 

  • Participants must have at least a +2 degree and should have a basic knowledge of the English language (i.e. should be able to speak, read and write). 

  • Before going to Israel, participants receive 200 hours of theoretical training at CTEVT affiliated colleges. After going to Israel, participants receive 400 hours of training. 

  • Participants are sent to Israel for a 10 to 11-month period as ‘agriculture trainees.’ 

  • Participants are given theoretical knowledge on the first day of every week and learn practical knowledge on the farm for the five subsequent days every week. 

  • Participants are given one free day per week. 

  • Participants are paid in wages for the work they do on the farm according to the rules of the Israeli government. 

  • Participants are expected to put the knowledge acquired through the program into action upon returning to Nepal. 

Costs/expenses

  • Participants are required to pay for return flights (two-way), a passport, a medical test, tuition fees (college), food, accommodation and personal expenses. WHAT’S AN INSURANCE FACILITY IN THIS CONTEXT????

  • The required VISA fee is waived by the Embassy of Israel in Nepal. 

  • Participants have no right to demand any financial losses/claims/compensation from SKBBL.

Guidelines for SFACLS

  • Participants must fulfill all the requirements mentioned above.

  • Family members of participants need to ensure participants return to Nepal after completing of the program. Land/monetary collateral are also given to ensure they return, as well as the signing of a bond in the presence of the participants’ parents, as well as an SFACL representative.

  • If participants do not strictly follow the rules, regulations and guidelines set by the Israeli institutions, they will be punished with a monetary penalty. 

  • Candidates recommended more than the given quotas to SFCLs shall be selected on the lottery basis??????? Candidates selected through a lottery process are considered for an interview. If candidates pass this stage, they are good to go to Israel. 

  • Participants without a background in agriculture will not be recommended. 

Selecting Districts & Quotas

The process of selecting districts is done by SKBBL and the Embassy of Israel in Nepal. The training institutions in Israel are selected with the aid of the Israeli embassy. The quota for each of the training institutes is determined through direct negotiations with them. 

Selecting Small Farmer Agriculture Cooperatives Ltd. (SFACLs)

Requirements are as follows:

  • The SFACL must be affiliated with SKBBL.

  • The SFACL must use microcredit loans from SKBBL within the last ___ months. 

  • The SFACL should have a minimum of 375 members.

  • The SFACL must be categorized under class “A” in the previous fiscal year. 

  • SFACLs must strictly comply with the instructions and guidelines given by SKBBL.

  • Board members must not violate the rules, regulations and guidelines of the cooperative. 

MOU between SKBBL and CTEVT. 

Lottery

Training institutes and colleges in Israel provides quotas for their programs. During the selection progress of qualified candidates, twice or thrice the amount of candidates are nominated for an interview. To ensure the selection process is done equitably, only one participant from an SFACL with 375 farming families can be considered. 

Once the final list of names is collected from all the SFACLs, they are all put into a basket and to be picked at random, like the lottery. The names are picked from the basket one by one until the quota given by the training institutions has been filled. After that, an interview is to be conducted with the successful candidates. The interview itself is conducted with a representative of the training institution. 

In case of unforeseeable circumstances, SKBBL and the Embassy of Israel have the right to cancel the program. 

Number of Participants sent to 5 Israeli Colleges

Conclusion

Targeted primarily at youth, this program aims to encourage and inspire them to be involved in agriculture, and to become more efficient by learning about the newest technologies. This program has been supported by the Nepali government, as well as media houses and NGOs. SKBBL hopes that, upon the participants’ return, they will continue to be supported by the concerned ministries and agencies.

 

By Manish Mahato, Astara van der Jagt
July 12, 2019