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Posts by Menila
In my more than a decade long development journey, I have travelled a lot. I have reached to remote corners of the country and have listened to the voices of marginalised people. No place compares to Karnali region in remoteness and marginalisation. I had heard about it but got the opportunity to experience it only in the last October.
I started my journey of Karnali from Kalikot district. Kalikot is often referred as ‘youngest district’ in Nepal as it was separated from adjoining Jumla district only few decades ago. It is also the district where the likelihood of people dying younger is higher than other districts in Nepal as the life expectancy is just 47 years. Majority of people in the district make their living from subsistence agriculture.
Galje is one of the many places I visited in Kalikot. It at is about 3 hours’ drive from district headquarter, Manma. Practical Action has been supporting a farmers group in Galje to embrace the commercial vegetable framing through its BICAS project.
The topography of Galje was challenging and climate was hostile. However, people were very welcoming. I was particularly impressed with the gender composition of the group.
After the observation of the commercial vegetable plots, collection centre and agro-vets, we held a discussion with the farmer’s groups to know more about their new initiatives. The vegetable farming was indeed a new endeavour for them as there is the monopoly of the cereal based farming in Kalikot district as in other districts of Karnali. There was good participation of females in the meeting. They were little bit shy at the beginning however as the discussion progressed they became more active. I believe my presence in the meeting also helped them to open up.
I encouraged them to share their stories and experiences, which they did turn by turn. Each had different and encouraging story to share. I was particularly impressed by the story of Radhika Shahi, a young and energetic girl of 21 years.
Radhika is a plus two graduate. Unlike many youths in rural areas who find little hope in their villages, she is determined to make a difference in her own village. She has chosen agriculture to make the difference.
“Though all the households in our village make their living from agriculture, it is often looked down as something for old and uneducated people. I wanted to break the stereotype,” she shared.
“Like other families in the village, we were only producing cereal crops in our land. We had little knowledge about the vegetable farming. Though we used to receive some vegetable seeds from the Agriculture Service Centre (ASC) sometimes, we never took it seriously as we didn’t have skill and technologies required for vegetable farming. Neither, we knew that the vegetable farming is more profitable than cereal crops,” Radhika continued.
“BICAS project convinced us about the benefits of the vegetable farming and provided technical trainings on the improved farming practices. It also introduced us to new technologies like poly house for off-season production. An agro-vet and collection centre has been established at the nearby market with the help of the project. As a result, we have easy access to seeds, fertilisers and pesticides from agro-vet. Likewise, collection centre has made the marketing of vegetable easier,” Radhika added.
Last season, she made a profit of NPR. 48,000 (1USD = NPR 107) from selling bean, cucumber, cabbage and tomato.
“I think if we have better technologies and the access to market, we can prosper from the vegetable farming. Gradually, other people in the village are realising it.” She looked more determined and hopeful when she said it.
Listening to Radhika’s story, I felt like Karnali is not without hope as it is often portrayed. Young and energetic people like Radhika are keeping the hope alive in Karnali.2 Comments » | Add your comment
I was at field trip to rick- duck project sites in Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts last week to observe how well the farmers have been adopting the project ideas and approaches. But, as I concluded my trip, I came to the realization that the farmers know better. “Addressing Malnutrition through Integrated Rice-Duck Farming in Nepal”, is being implemented in Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts since April 2014. This is 1.5 years project funded by Grand Challenge Canada. The major objective of the project is to increase the income of the farmers and make the availability of protein rich duck meat to small holder farmers in order to address the problem of malnutrition.
The principle behind rice-duck farming is integration of ducks in the rice field to exploit the symbiotic relationship between rice and ducks resulting into increased productivity of rice. The project has set a target to reach 1000 small holder farmers within its time frame.
I was really impressed to observe that the famers are not only adopting the project ideas well but also bringing forth the innovative ideas themselves. Group farming was one of the ideas which caught my attention.
Instead of doing individually, some of the farmers have chosen to be united in the group of twos, fours or fives to do the group farming. This was observed in many Village Development Committees (VDCs) including Khairaheni, Kathar, Kumroj, Kumarwarti and Nipeni. A group of five Tharu women: Draupati, Sunita, Krishna, Mina and Poonam in Kathar became enthusiastic when they knew about rice-duck farming through Practical Action. Four of them did not have rice field nearby their home due to which they were unable to meet the criteria set by the project.
Where there is a will, there is a way. These four women finally came up with an idea to do it together in their friend’s rice field which is close to their home. Now, they are doing rice-duck farming together.
The women expressed that rice-duck farming is superior to traditional rice farming in many ways;
“We are happy to do rice-duck farming. In fact, it is more than farming. We love these ducks like our kids. We have also built the small shed inside the rice field to allow ducks to rest when it is very hot in the afternoon. We keep a vigil on the ducks whole day to protect them against predators. We have also placed a tin in the corner of the rice field. When we see some predators coming to attack ducks, we sound off the tin to chase them away.”
They have found that group farming has yielded several benefits to them and all lead to saving the cost and labor of the production. Instead of fencing a small plot of rice field individually, fencing the larger field minimises the cost, time and labour for fencing.
In the same vein, farmers can supervise the field turn by turn to protect the ducks against predators. They can do the things together like transplanting rice, collecting fencing materials and local feeds (sewar and karkalo) and taking care of ducks. Farmers also expressed happily that learning and sharing is more pronounced while working together. The presence of ducks in the rice field has brought smiles on their faces.
“They play in the rice field joyfully. Eat all the weeds and insects. It is incredible to see how they loosen the soil around the rice plant. It makes plant grow faster and also increases the number of tillers. We can clearly see the difference between ordinary rice field and rice-duck fields. Rice-duck field looks more green, clean and healthy.”
Farmers thanked the Practical Action for bring the technology them, But, I felt they deserve it more for coming up with new ideas to make rice-duck farming a better farming technology.2 Comments » | Add your comment
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