Contribution of marginal land and indigenous crops on food security: A case of eastern Chitwan, Nepal
Keywords:Food system, marginal land, COVID-19
People have utilized indigenous and underutilized crops available in the marginal land for their food. However, little is known about the contribution of these crops to food security. To assess the contribution of these crops to food security of local people, a survey was done with 107 respondents selected from community forest users of the eastern Chitwan of Nepal in 2020. The findings revealed that fiddle head fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris L.), air potato (Dioscorea bulbifera L.), stinging nettle (Urtica dioica L.), and white yam (Dioscorea alata L.) were consumed mostly compared to other indigenous and underutilized crops. Community forest was a major source of underutilized crops followed by marginal land. Though air potato was available only for four months, its contribution to food security was higher than the other crops. Indigenous crops were found gradually disappearing due to producers' poor access to land to cultivate, misuse of land, and ineffective implementation of the Land Use Act. Further, local people’s engagement on off-farm employment had increased marginal land fallow. The study found that the prices of indigenous and underutilized crops offer income-generating opportunities. Thus, a marginal land use plan considering indigenous and underutilized crops is needed for both food security and income of local people.
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