A group of like minded people got together and decided to establish a specialized organization which takes care of advocacy and promotional activities of farmer managed irrigation systems of Nepal. Nepal is known for its tradition of farmer managed irrigation systems (FMIS). In this country, farmers are collectively engaged in irrigated agricultural development as an enterprise since time immemorial. There are thousands of FMIS in the country. These FMIS provide irrigation services to 70 percent of the country’s total irrigated area of little over of 1.2 million ha. Hence, FMIS have gained on their own a status that is symbolic of the national heritage in Nepal. They are the mainstay of the country’s food security as well as social and political stability. Mostly, these FMIS are location-specific, indigenous in their management practices and representative of the local organizational needs and services to deliver. FMIS symbolizes grass root democratic institution where community takes responsibility of natural resource management and allocation. They represent a sustained decentralized pattern of organizations. Nepal’s FMIS are indigenous and have autonomous operational characteristics providing basic hope for the sustainable management and development of the nation’s natural resources wherein water is the most precious resource of all.
Despite the country’s national FMIS heritage, there are no dedicated institutional means to recognize the FMIS that have been surviving in the face of social, organizational, economic, technical and environmental challenges. No self-initiated and systemic institutional support exists to facilitate these FMIS to develop their comparative capacity vis-a-vis the challenges. Besides this, these FMIS have largely remained incommunicative to the global community. Such a situation has constrained the FMIS from evolving into a competitive socio-economic entity. Hence, there is a need to conserve and preserve such a national heritage in the form of FMIS as functional institutions in the diverse socio-economic and geo-setting of Nepal.
Taking into consideration of those important features of FMIS, a trust called “ Farmer Managed Irrigation System Promotional Trust” (FMIST) representing members of different disciplines was formed and registered under Association Act of Nepal in 1988. It plays a role of advocacy, promotional and conservation of values embodied in them
- To provide the FMIS increased recognition for their organizational and management innovations, and indigenous knowledge and skills;
- To recognize the value of the FMIS in the wider socio-economic and political context and share information about their institutions;
- To bring them into the global stream of creativity, well being and self-governance in a way that makes themselves aware of the value and uniqueness of their own institutional assets;
- To disseminate the knowledge on FMIS through seminar, workshop and contribution in academic papers; and
- To develop human resources and knowledge base on FMIS through applied research and training.
The specific objectives of the Trust are as follows:
- To recognize one FMIS periodically for its best practice in a specified field that helps in sustainable organization, management and technology of irrigated agricultural system;
- To provide the officials of these FMIS exposure and orientation to the irrigated agricultural system development and management practices;
- To widely disseminate the basic features of the award winning FMIS;
- To conduct and encourage FMIS related research that directly helps to promote a knowledge-base on FMIS through research support grant (RSG); and
- To provide a networking forum for national and international dialogue on FMIS.