04 Mar Environmental conservation in Langtang Park and Karsangmo’s story
In october 2018, ASIA Onlus started a project focused on environmental conservation of the Langtang National Park, in Nepal, thanks to Provincia Autonoma di Trento‘s fundings.
The communities of Langtang National Park live almost exclusively on agricultural products for self-maintenance (seldom for retail) and on limited zoothecnic activities. Nevertheless, the soil is not very fertile and prone to desertification, because of the extreme exploitation of natural resources of the last decades. Moreover, the whole Park ecosystem has been altered. Once it was guaranteed by mountain reservoirs, which preserved hydrological balances and biodiversity and contained the rainwater flows, minimizing the risk of floods and rockslides.
In recent years, especially after the 2015 earthquake, almost 35% of men left Nepalese rural areas in search of fortune. Women, instead, stayed there to take care of their children, farm crops, breed the animals and to pay the debts incurred for funding their husbands’ journeys. In rural areas women’s condition is stuck in the past of a patriarchal society that considers the woman as subordinate to the man, both in social positions and in economical ones: without right to land, education and with scarce health conditions.
For this reason ASIA started up a project with multiple objectives. On one hand, this project aims to environmental protection and counter climate changes through buffer zones reforestation; on the other hand it aims to improve life conditions of the Park community, especially of women, through an activity plan that offers vocational training and income opportunities, such as micro-business, linked to environmental conservation and promoting non-wood forest sectors.
In practice, ASIA contributed to train thirty women on nursery management, right to land, financial administration and on commercialization. It is also involved in the realization of rainwater collection systems and in training a great number of families on bee-keeping and mushroom-growing.
In all, 1740 female farmers have been direct beneficiaries of this project and 44.000 individuals have been indirect ones.
Read here the direct testimony of a woman involved in the project:
My name is Karsangmo Negi Tamang. I live in Naukunda-1, Aarukharka. In my family we are six: my husband, my three daughters, my two sons and I. However, it is just me and my husband living here.
Our main source of income is agriculture, but due to the lack of water for irrigation and to the soil structure of this place, we were able to grow only seasonal crops during monsoon and we were barely able to feed the family with no surplus. Moreover, could just address our basic needs from herding.
I think it was early January 2020 when a Nepal Agroforestry Foundation team came to our community and discussed with us about our necessities and problems in agriculture. Then they gathered all Aarukharka women in the Aarukharka Agroforestry Women’s Group, in order to support us in the making of an agroforestry nursery. Among all women, I was the only aware that farming could be a commercial and profitable activity, because my husband worked in a nursery in Himachal Pradesh (India) for almost 5 years. Therefore, the group decided to place the nursery in my land. Nepal Agroforestry Foundation experts trained the group in the nursery management practices, and other fundamental aspects, such as financial literacy, right to land and property and business plan. During those training, we realized that we knew almost nothing about something so important, which we had never heard of before.
Then we started working in the nursery under the full guidance of the experts. We raised seedlings from seeds as well as from cuttings. We raised seedlings of bamboo, Szechuan Pepper, Lime, Okhar and Kabro (Ficus lacor). The foundation supported us providing us seeds and all the materials needed to start up the nursery.
We gave almost 3000-3500 of seedlings free of cost to the community, on the basis of their demand. We sold only the surplus, Only the surplus ones were sold and the revenues were increased to about 90,000-100,000 rupees.
In Aarukharka the whole community is happy because, thanks to the nursery realized by the Nepal Agroforestry Foundation, they are now able to get highly demanded crops – like Szechuan Pepper, Okhar, Lime etc. – free of cost or at a very subsidized price. Otherwise, they should pay around 200 rupees per seedlings, which is exorbitant for the majority of farmers! Moreover, thanks to this, now they are slowly moving to commercial and profitable cultivation.
On behalf of the whole community, I would like to express our sincere gratitude to Nepal Agroforestry Foundation experts, who supported us in finding a sustainable source of income for our present and future. We will be forever grateful!