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In the mountains of Nepal, clever engineering and better support services are making the trip to market a much safer, more profitable journey.

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The Challenge

Kalikot, Mugu, Jumla, Bajura and Bahjang are some of the poorest districts of Nepal. Where smallholder farmers struggle to produce enough food in tough, mountainous conditions that make selling excess crops at markets a dangerous undertaking.

  • Poor infrastructure and unpredictable rainfall make it difficult to grow enough food for families, or extra produce to sell.
  • Their isolated location makes it hard to access materials for farming and healthcare for livestock.
  • Travelling to markets to sell produce involves a dangerous journey carrying heavy loads down treacherous mountain paths on foot.
  • Nearly half the population in these districts live below the poverty line. And many are from marginalized ethnic groups, including the Dalits and Janjatis. Who are left out of decision making and local development.
  • Many men migrate to India for work, leaving women behind to manage farms with little experience.

“I was carrying 30 to 40 kgs and the trail condition was very poor. About once a month I was carrying maize or something down to sell. I was carrying things up three or four times a month. My stomach and back used to hurt and I was always worried I was going to faint and slip. I was very scared.

Suchana Mijar, Mana, Nepal

The Ingenious Solution

Using a top-to-tail approach, we’ve set up services to help farmers improve yield, knowledge and access to healthcare and supplies, alongside making the journey to market quicker and safer.

  • Alongside upgrading existing watermills we’ve improved the water supply by constructing 25 pond irrigation schemes and 10 community-managed water systems.
  • A new network of fully trained animal health workers and agro-vets are able to supply 7000 farms and 45 cooperatives with services, advice and demonstrations on animal care, irrigation techniques and climate-resilient crop selection.
  • Five new gravity ropeways make it quicker and safer to move produce down the mountainous paths. Reducing injury and increasing profits.
  • Access to market hubs have been created through ‘farmers business schools’ and new local resource centres providing greater opportunities for farmers to sell their crops.
  • Local cooperatives have been established, offering training and support to map market opportunities, form agro-processing enterprises and develop entrepreneurship skills. Alongside lobbying for better prices and services for rural farmers. Helping the communities gain independence and strength.


Now we have the gravity ropeway, the time saved means I can earn three times as much from selling my vegetables. With that extra money I can afford to farm animals, too. But I’m not just glad for me – the whole village is prospering thanks to the ropeway.”

Dharma, Farmer, Janagaon village

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