The SWITCH-Asia project of Nepal Handmade Paper Association (HANDPASS, "Enhancement of Sustainable Production of Lokta Handmade Paper in Nepal (ESPLHP)) aims to establish system/s of forest management and marketing of paper in favour of MUs and SMEs of handmade paper sector in Nepal.
The lokta plant is a shrub that grows at an altitude of 2000 to 4000 meters in most coniferous forests of Nepal. Lokta paper is made from the inner bark of this shrub. The sector has more than 170 enterprises engaged in paper production in different parts of the country. These enterprises provide large-scale employment opportunities and benefit approximately 55,000 families. In particular, women are the primary beneficiaries of the sector as 80% of the workforce is composed of women.
Activities of the program will focus on promoting a system sustainable of forest management, and green technologies in hand made paper production. The activities of the project will effectively cover the entire value chain of this sector. Apart from support to farmers, the project also focuses on several other activities like proper Lokta harvesting techniques, reduction of wastewater pollution in paper dyeing process, as well as improving product development and quality enhancement. Additionally, the project aims to strengthen Lokta trade networks through participation in international trade fairs and organizing buyer seller meetings in Nepal and Europe.
One result of the project is a forest management tool that will be used by the cutter farmers. This Lokta Measuring Gauge (LMG) presented by the ESPLHP project manager was highly praised. It has demonstrated its use well and is used in the forest management of Jiri Lokta Forests. The experience of the District Forest Officer (DFO) has helped to improve the tool. The project manager and his technical manager took this message to the DFO. The DFO, a learned practitioner of Lokta forest management, who also endorsed the idea to go ahead with this tool which identifies a mature plant and is a management decision-maker, and monitoring tool.
The project has engaged with the target group and routine activities are ongoing, such as:
1. Lokta cutting and forest management training. Altogether 1 195 lokta cutters have benefited so far;
2. Paper making training. Altogether 727 paper makers have benefitted from the project;
3. Wastage water management. Approximately 30 entrepreneurs have been trained to use waste water to clean up a polluted environment;
4. Marketing approach and current situation analysis of Lokta.
March 9, 2009
The Nepal Handmade Paper Association (HANDPASS) had been lobbying for the domestic use of Nepali paper in order to promote local employment and the local product apart from its export. On 9 March 2009, the Government decided to use Nepali lokta paper for its citizenship certificates, identity cards, letter pads and other government stationary. The decision has given a fresh lease of life to Nepali lokta paper. It has brought a new ray of hope to the handmade paper sector and has inspired all stakeholders in the value chain.