KATHMANDU, Dec. 25 (Xinhua) -- Nepal added 467,000 new farming households in a span of 10 years, according to the National Agriculture Census 2011-2012 released by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) on Wednesday.
The census shows that there are 3.83 million farming households in the country. The farm sector employs 20.55 million people out of the national population of 26.49 million.
To a certain extent, the data disproves an apparent decline in the popularity of agriculture as an occupation in the country, but the farm sector is increasingly low-graded by many young people in Nepal.
Figures from the census show that Nepal has witnessed a steady pattern of migration from rural to urban areas. One in every four households reported that at least one member is absent or living out of country. The highest proportion (44.81 percent) of absent population is from the age group 15-24 years.
Environmental leader Dr. Vandana Shiva in a recent interview with Xinhua, said that to reverse this phenomenon and make agriculture "exciting" and "inspiring" for young people, Nepal must invest in new agricultural models putting young generations at the center of the equation.
"So many young people who move to the city go back to their villages when they realize they can do something meaningful," said Dr. Shiva. "We have to make it possible for young people, not only to survive in the villages, but to thrive in villages."
Dr. Shiva believed that the rural exodus is partly a symptom of the fact that people in Nepal look at agriculture as "an inferior activity."
"We must undo the cultural bias against agriculture. Agriculture is the most dignified profession; we must bring pride and dignity back," Dr. Shiva, recipient of the 1993 Right Livelihood Award, also referred to as Alternative Nobel Peace Prize, told Xinhua.
Data shows that as much as 1,500 young Nepalese leave their hometowns everyday in search of alternative job opportunities. To repopulate the so-called "ghost towns" in Nepal's rural areas, Dr. Shiva believed that the country must shift to a sustainable agricultural system.
"With biodiversity intensity you increase the production, the nutrition output, the income to farmers and most importantly you increase the possibility of young people to be creative and innovative," said the 61-years old Indian environmental activist.