Archive for March, 2011
I have recently returned from my first visit to Nepal to see IDE’s projects and meet the IDE Nepal team and our farmer clients.
IDE has been working in Nepal since the early 90’s and the Nepal programme is now one of the largest within the IDE family. Since establishment IDE Nepal has reached more than 170,000 poor farming families and achieved an average annual per family income increase of £125.
I was struck by how effectively the small scale IDE client farmers near Pokhara (to the west of Kathmandu) are using tiny terraced pockets of land high up the sides of mountains to grow irrigated fruit and vegetables for the market.
A recent innovation that is proving to be very popular is the plastic greenhouse. These are cheap and easy to construct. They enable the farmers to protect plants from heavy rain and disease to grow tomatoes during the rainy season. During the main season in the lowlands the farmers’ can fetch around 10-15 Nepalese Rupees a kilo (£0.8 – £0.12), however during the monsoon the prices rise to 50 – 70 Rupees per kg (£0.40 – £0.60) – so there is significant additional income to be made by growing tomatoes during the rains.
Whilst there I met three women farmers who were just starting to use irrigation with the support of a Department for International Development (DFID – British Government) funded project. Pabitra Pariyar had just bought a drip irrigation system for 1900 Rupees (£16) from the local manufacturer IDE has been supporting. Before adopting the drip irrigation technology Pabitra was growing maize and millet on her 1/8 hectare plot, selling a little surplus for 2-400 Rupees (£1.70 – £3.40). Pabitra has high hopes that she will make much more cash income by selling the cabbages she is planting.
In another village I met Radha Lansal. Unusually for a woman in rural Nepal Radha lives alone. Radha first started irrigated farming in 2007 with the support of the IDE Rural Prosperity Initiative. Before joining the project Radha grew rain fed crops on her 500 square metre plot to eat and had very little cash. In the first year she earned nearly £430 in cash income from growing vegetables, using this cash she has rented more land – adding another 1000 square metres – and last year increased her income to £683. When I asked Radha how she was using her increased income she showed her independent spirit – she said she is saving £300 a year for the future when she knows she may not be able to work so hard.
I left Nepal further inspired by the potential that even the smallest plot of land in the most difficult place can enable farmers to dramatically increase their incomes. These farmers just need the tools, knowledge and water to really transform their lives.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )