Haat Bazaar: A strategy for promoting local food systems in Nepal
Haat Bazaar are markets that generally take place on a weekly or bi-weekly basis in a playground or an open field, which is accessible to most families in a village. Difficulty or even inability to access the market, because of lack of access to transportation, represents an obstacle for local farmers to earn a supplemental income by selling their products. With 65% of the population depending directly on small scale agriculture, Haat Bazaar offers a unique opportunity for producers to increase their profits and convert underutilized species or Non Timber Forest Products (NTFPs).
In recent years, the system of Haat Bazaar, which was generally practiced in the southern plain region of Nepal, has now gained in popularity and the practice has spread to semi-urban areas. For instance, in the periphery of the city of Bharatpur in the Chitwan district, four Haat Bazaars are running twice a week. The majority of products sold at the market are agricultural products like vegetables, fruit, legumes, pulses, spices and honey. Besides agricultural products people sell medicinal herbs, NTFPs, and clothes. Sanumaya Mishra, a local citizen regularly attends one of the Haat Bazaars in Bharatpur. She saw in the local market as an opportunity to sell her production and it has allowed her to support the needs of her two children while being able to pay for their education.
“The supply and availability of fresh and locally produced vegetables, underutilized species with high nutritive and medicinal value at the Haat Bazaar is beneficial for us”, said Mr. Narayan Chhetri, a local resident of that community. The market also represents an opportunity for citizens to socialise while promoting local food production, reducing the costs associated with transportation and improving the local economy and food security.
The development of Haat Bazaar has taken place without support frrom government authorities. In this context, the role of the Community Based Organizations (CBOs) and the Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is crucial in pursuading the Government to adopt policies that could extend services and improve infrastructure, enabling small scale farmers to sell their surplus. NGOs and CBOs fulfill an important role working towards agricultural development and community empowerment by providing training, raising awareness and giving technical assistance to the farmers.
Text: Pramilla Dhakal