17 Mar Sustainability and female empowerment in Nepal, Sita’s story
In november 2019 ASIA started up a project in Kavre and Sindhupalchock districts (Nepal) thanks to Agenzia Italiana per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo’s funds. The project aims to enhance the livelihood of 3500 farmers, improving small-scale agricultural production and marketing of high value seeds and spice.
Farming is the mainstay of Nepalese economy: it includes one third of the nation’s GDP and it provides work for two third of the population. Nevertheless, in Kavre and Sindhupalchock there are numerous problems that deal with the production of quality seeds, poor knowledge of marketing channels and of production techniques.
Moreover a lot of Nepalese men migrate towards foreign countries in search of jobs and this leaves a gap in family and farm management. For this reason most part of the project focuses on women’s role in business management, in order to guarantee their full participation and equal opportunities in leadership.
Some project’s activities point to improving the production of local seed in order to meet the local markets’ demands, so that it can increase the average income of producers. Others are directed towards the improvement of production, commercialization and transformation of spices such as ginger, turmeric and chili, in order to develop their export potential.
ASIA involved the Agricultural and Forestry Sciences Department of Tuscia University, which is of great value for the introduction of new techniques and technologies for high quality seeds production and conservation. It also preciously helps in realizing a seed bank for safe-guarding the genetic heritage of local varieties. The beneficiaries are supported also by the marketing experts from Prato University Centre in business planning and in studying the value chain of selected products, in order to create a sustainable commercial system.
The local partner CEAPRED (Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development) is responsible for the activities coordination and articulation, for the involvement of local authorities and for ensuring the development process ownership.
Read Sita’s story, a farmer directly involved in the project:
I’m Sita Sapkota, 50 years old. I live in Dhulikhel. I come from a very poor family, I never got to finish high school and when I was seventeen I got married with a man from a nearby village. I used to do housework, take care of the livestock and plant crops for daily use, while my husband did some small jobs. When our second son was born, my husband fled to Arab countries looking for work. I found myself alone to manage the household, our children and our activity. Our main source of livelihood was remittance services.
Even though we worked the land for 10-12 years, crops were scarce and unproductive. We had a really hard time, we almost had no money, we were on thin ice.
When the project “Speed for Life” was launched in my town, I was directly involved. I actively participated in initiatives and training. At a certain point I was chosen so that my farm could be a project’s model-farm. So, it became a resource center, where it was possible to multiply the local germplasm to increase the production of the whole community. At the same time it became a learning center: here sustainable techniques, technologies and practices were demonstrated and here the production of local spices and vegetables was promoted.
The project supported me both from a technical and material point of view: they provided me a tunnel-greenhouse, mulching instruments, drip irrigation systems, garden pumps, several pheromone traps, plastics for the solarization of the soil, a thermometer, vegetables and spices seeds for the demonstration, a sprayer, mosquito nets, buckets for the preparation of biopesticides, EM, Trichoderma, shears, watering cans and many other things!
I started to grow cauliflower, onion, large-leaf mustard in the tunnel-greenhouse, while the external area was totally covered by other vegetables and spices seeds. I earned almost 10,000 rupees in this season and I think I will earn another 50,000 rupees thanks to other products that are ready-made.
I was really happy to be the first among my fellow villagers to establish a tunnel-greenhouse and other modern technologies. I learn a lot of sustainable techniques and practices for a new approach to land. I was able to disseminate awareness among other farmers. A lot of them came to visit my farm, to study the new technologies in order to replicate my business model on their land. I was really glad to have shared with others what I have learned!
I’m planning to strengthen my activity, to increase crops, spices and seeds for my production. I hope that the project, to whom I’m deeply thankful, will support us again. Thank you so much ASIA and CEAPRED!