How resilient seeds help communities to keep growing

By Practical Action On 29.01.2021 Climate changeFarmingFood & agricultureMarketsResilience

A changing climate means a tough challenge

Communities across Nepal rely on agriculture for food, income and essential goods. However, the sudden flooding, extended droughts and unpredictable weather that climate change brings means that agriculture as we know it isn’t working for the vast majority of farmers, as crops fail and land becomes barren. But this doesn’t have to be the case.

Resilient seeds would allow farmers like Pooja to make the most of her land, grow more, earn more and enjoy a more naturally varied and nutritious diet 

Through an ingenious five-point plan, active collaboration with the community and sharing knowledge, we believe that farmers can turn the tables on climate change and overcome hardship to forge futures where they can thrive and grow. 

Tiny super seeds can bring about big change

“The main problem in agriculture is that of irrigation… [and]we could not get improved seeds andfertiliserson time. These days it doesn’t rain and, when it rains, it pours for days. Because of this, the crops die due to lack of water and also due to excess water. It didn’t happen like this in the past. 

– Pooja Chaudhary, teacher and farmer in the Dangisharan Rural Municipality

Bringing the land back to life

Drawing on a combination of indigenous farming techniques and up-to-date information farming communities are also able to ensure improvements in mulching and soil quality, preventing soil runoff and finding alternatives to tilling, meaning that the germination process becomes more reliable. 

Regenerative farming allows farmers to make the most from their land and protect it for the future. This means farmers can take important steps to putting food on the table for their families and money aside for the future. 

The resulting bigger harvests feed entire families, with crops to spare that can then be sold to provide income. And with this income becoming more reliable due to the techniques set out above, communities are able to start planning for the future. 

The ingenious solution literally starts from the ground  with resilient seeds, better suited to changing climates and variable weather patterns.  

We worked with farmers to promote climate-resilient seeds that produce more than the local variety, meaning the farm can get a higher yield and more profit from the land available to them. Resilient seeds also allow farmers to spread risks, as different types of seed can be sown across different terrain in different seasons  with certain varieties able to thrive in times of drought and others during the wetter season. 

Resilient seeds are selected for their durability and the hardy crop variants they can grow. They produce delicious, spicy Nepa chilies; bitter gourd, a staple food that’s fed farming families for years; cauliflowers that can grow in even the toughest terrain; and hardy turnips, radishes and potatoes that grow all year round, even with extreme environmental challenges. This range of seeds also allows farmers to grow cash crops, meaning that they have the opportunity to grow produce that’s harvested with profit in mind. 

These seeds can be grown in even the toughest regions, too. Even in Marpha, a mountainous district in Nepal with an arid, desert-like climate, these seeds are able to thrive.  

Nara’s story is proof that these seeds are special

Nara Bahadur was an immigrant worker in India, before finding his way back home to Jumla. We worked with Nara on a previous project in Nepal, helping him improve his vegetable-growing knowledge and introducing him to new varieties of adaptive seeds. 

Today, Nara earns more than 1 lakh rupees (Approx.695 GBP) every year from his oneropani(500 square metres – which is about the quarter of the size of a football pitch) of land. Now, Nara is able to see a future for himself and his family.  

Super seeds help Nara get the most out of his land

 

 “One of the happiest parts of my life is the breaking of the decades-long cycle of migration to India and instead growing agricultural products, such as vegetables, to earn money at home. I’m now able to share my experiences with the people here in Kathmandu, and this is another milestone of my life.” 

– Nara Bahadur, farmer in Jumla, Nepal 

One part of an ingenious solution

Supported by solar-powered irrigation, these seeds can start to grow into resilient crops, and amazing changes can start to take shape. Solar irrigation enables farmers to water their seedlings using water from rivers, which flow through deep ravines or across huge plains. It means that farming communities not only avoid the back-breaking job of having to carry dangerous, heavy loads up treacherous paths during times of drought, but their crops get a more consistent supply of water, and produce a better harvest.

And then when it comes to harvest time, to help goods get to market, farming communities can now access market information and dramatically improved methods of transporting produce, like low-cost, eco-friendly cable cars that drastically reduce labour.

Combined with access to modern weather information systems, farming communities can better plan what to plant and when in tune with the weather. And with reliable, resilient seeds, these communities will be able to look forward to their harvest.

Farming fit for the future

Tiny, climate-resilient seeds stand as powerful proof that big change starts small – and are a key part of an approach that we’re trying to scale around the world. These seeds are part of an approach that has already led to great things for communities in Zimbabwe, helping them perfect their own seed supply. We believe that, through a combination of small solutions, big change can happen. And you can help make that possible! 

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