International Migration, Remittances and Subsistence Farming: Evidence from Nepal



Although international migration is playing an increasingly important role in Nepal, at both the macro and household levels, and in particular for the poverty reduction of rural families, empirical work focusing on this phenomenon has been largely absent. With a special view on the rural poor, in this paper we investigate the impact of international labour migration on subsistence agricultural production in the Western Mid Hills of Nepal, based on a survey conducted among smallholders with migrating family members. The results demonstrate that international migration leads to negligence of cereals – paddy, wheat, maize and millet, in particular, being the major subsistence crops. While bearing a negative impact on family labour input, its impact on hired farm labour is positive. Yet it does not affect material inputs such as fertilizer, and although it helps to ease households’ liquidity and capital constraints, it does not contribute to moving subsistence farming towards more profitable commercial farming. Therefore, although migration reduces poverty in the short run and also allows for higher daily consumption, its negative impact on cereal production requires attention by policymakers.