Access to extension services is one of the critical constraints in agriculture. Only 15% of the worlds’ extension agents are women. Globally, women have limited access to agriculture inputs, technology, knowledge and practices. In case of rural areas of Nepal, due to existing socio-cultural norms, women have even minimal access to extension services.
Reshma Shahi from Galje, Kalikot which is one of the remotest corner of the country would like to have more women extension workers in her village. She believes a woman can learn more from a woman than from man. She is currently studying Bachelors in Education (B.Ed). Unlike many educated and aspiring youths in Nepal, she wants to pursue career in agriculture. She feels really proud to be recognised as a change agent in rural agriculture. She started growing vegetables last year. This year, she is growing vegetables in more land and selling all the surpluses in the nearby market. Each season, she makes up to NPR 80,000 (GBP 555) from vegetables.
Reshma’s parents used to grow only cereals in their land. They thought vegetable farming was a demanding business since it requires more knowledge, care and investment. In 2017, Reshma got vegetable production and marketing training. She learnt about new varieties, farming practices, poly house technology and profitability of growing vegetables. Later, she attended other trainings, exposure visits and interaction meetings with vegetable market actors under the BICAS (Building Inclusive and Sustainable Growth Capacity of CSOs in Agriculture and Forest Sectors) project funded by European Union and Jersey Overseas Aid.
After receiving training, Reshma tried to convince her parents to consider vegetable farming. First, they were sceptic but her multiple attempts to convince them, they finally counted in. Now, Reshma’s parents are delighted to see her educated girl growing vegetable and making money from it.
“I contact either Local Resource Person (LRP) or agrovet if I need to know something about vegetable farming.” We have only male LRPs in our area and women in our locality find women LRPs more approachable and comfortable to talk to. I have also acquired much knowledge about vegetable growing. It requires technical education in agriculture to become a LRP. I want to save money to invest on my sister’s education. I want to make her an efficient agriculture technician”, says Reshma Shahi.
Rhesma has good access to agriculture inputs, she has wonderfully using various irrigation techniques and she has great access to the markets. With the knowledge, skills received and the system established by the project, she is confident to continue vegetable farming and further enhance her farming skills.
As a famous proverb says, “If you educate a woman, you educate a nation,” if we empower more women like Reshma, we will see a domino effect in agriculture extension in rural areas of Nepal. More number of women extension workers will substantially increase women’s access to extension services and will contribute more in food production.