Heifer International Nepal


For the past ten years, Heifer Nepal has been successfully helping smallholders manage risk of loss from livestock through a Community Managed Animal Assets Security Program. Under this, the farmers form a community managed fund, with 10% of the seed money supported by Heifer and rest raised from premium payments by insured. In case of a death of livestock, 80% would be covered by the program. With increased size of fund, famers also mobilize credit to meet their investment needs.

In June 2013, the Government of Nepal endorsed crop and livestock insurance scheme. Its 2014 update has increased subsidy on premium from 50% - 75% and an additional 15% if a cooperative insures its agribusiness. The government has also listed 17 non-life insurance companies who are to provide agriculture insurance mandatorily. Each company has been assigned 3 to 5 districts.

A major constraint in implementation of this policy is connecting insurance providers’ with the large number of smallholder farmers who are scattered throughout the country. These farmers often lack awareness or information on government’s programs and policies as well as lack access to credit services which can create a constrain in making the program a success. As a result, such pro-farmer policies are often limited to only larger scale farmers who have better access to information and have stronger network.   

Tapping into this opportunity, Heifer signed an MOU with NLG insurance company limited on 24 February 2017. In its first phase of collaboration with insurance companies, Heifer will also be entering into an MOU with three other insurance companies to ensure farmers in its project areas receive the benefits of the government’s policy.

Heifer Nepal works with smallholder farmers in 32 districts of Nepal. It primarily works with Self Help Groups which is eventually federated into Social Entrepreneur Women’s (SEW) Cooperatives. Farmers are closely linked to these cooperatives which provides them with savings and credit facility and marketing, bulking and selling of their products. Heifer will use these cooperatives to liaise insurance agents and its members most of whom are livestock farmers for a better understanding, coordination and to maintain accountability between both the parties. It will help increase awareness on importance of insurance among the farmers and help them get covered.

Heifer Nepal has supported formation of 190 such cooperatives who have thousands of members, which the insurance companies can access. On the other hand, insurance companies can use the services of Community Agro-Vet Entrepreneurs and technicians mobilized by Heifer for tagging and producing health and death certificates. Through NLG, Heifer is expecting to around 100,000 goats from its western region.

Nepal has been ranked as the fourth most vulnerable country on impact of climate change. Sustainability and long term viability of Nepal’s agriculture and livestock sector depends on how we address farm risks and encourage farmers to increase their investments for better yields. By bringing insurance companies and smallholder farmers closer, Heifer is helping farmers tackle the adverse effect of climate change.

Photo and story by Alina Karki