Sahaj, also known as the Nepal Agricultural Market Development Programme (NAMDP), aims to facilitate increased engagement of smallholder farmers, especially women-led production units and people from disadvantaged backgrounds, in commercial agriculture. The project does this by making markets more accessible to smallholders, which allows them to improve their competitiveness and income from farming. It adopts an ‘Inclusive Markets’ approach, commonly referred to as the Making Markets Work for the Poor (M4P) or Market Systems Development (MSD) approach. Sahaj partners with different market actors and enables them to take the lead in co-designing innovative business models and implementing activities that increase farm-productivity and boost the marketing potential of the crops or livestock supplied by the poor farmers.

Sahaj is a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and the Government of Switzerland. It is mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and is designed as a 12-year programme with three consecutive phases. The first phase of the programme started from March 2016 and will continue until December 2019. Sahaj is jointly implemented by Swisscontact as the lead agency, and the Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED).

The first phase of the programme works in three core sectors – goat, maize and vegetable – and two cross-sectors – crop protection and post-harvest. The cross-sectors, which focus on reducing crop-loss and adding value after production, have an impact across the Sahaj core sectors as well as other relevant agricultural sectors. The sectors were selected based on their growth potential, potential to increase income of the poor farmers and feasibility of conducting systemic interventions.

A cross-cutting theme across the programme includes Gender and Social Inclusion (GESI), which focuses on creating opportunities for poor smallholder farmers, women and disadvantaged groups. Another cross-cutting theme includes Sahaj’s work in enabling agri-business environment at the national and sub-national level.

Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI)

Gender Equality and Social Inclusion (GESI) is a cross-cutting theme across the programme. It focuses on creating opportunities for poor smallholder farmers, with an emphasis on women-led production units and disadvantaged groups (DAGs). Sahaj identifies women-led production units when women of independent farming households or members of farmer’s cooperatives/groups oversee production and marketing functions. DAGs are marginalised households who are poor and earn less than $2.50 per day.


Sahaj focuses on working with women and DAGs who often face multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination that limit their access to markets. The programme strives to improve their access to assets, goods and services by addressing the underlying causes of constraints in the markets. The programme’s GESI approach is guided by an identification and assessment of GESI issues. It has been working at the ground level as well as at the policy level to integrate GESI into programme interventions.

Sahaj aims for four gender equality outcomes for women in the project’s target locations:

  1. increased income
  2. access to opportunities, skills and jobs
  3. access to services and needed support to advance economically
  4. manageable workloads for women

Likewise, Sahaj aims for four outcomes for DAG households:

  1. increased income of DAG households
  2. access to productive skills/ information/ technology
  3. access to markets
  4. access to new employment opportunities

Monitoring and Results Measurement

Sahaj employs a robust and comprehensive Monitoring and Results Measurement (MRM), and applies the Donor Committee for Enterprise Development (DCED) Standard. This provides Sahaj with fact-based information for proactive and adaptive strategic management.

The Standard specifies eight elements of a successful results measurement system:

  1. Articulating the results chain
  2. Defining indicators of change
  3. Measuring changes in indicators
  4. Estimating attributable changes
  5. Capturing wider changes in the system or market
  6. Tracking programme costs
  7. Reporting results
  8. Managing the system for results measurement

Sahaj Factsheet in Nepali

Sahaj Factsheet in English