Sabitra, 22, a resident of Bhumikasthan-2, Dakabang of Arghakhachi district in Nepal lives in a joint family of six members. She was married at a young age with her companion named Shiva. However, at a very early age, Sabitra was handed all the household responsibilities including taking care of her in-laws. Her husband, who is the only son in his family had the entire financial responsibility for livelihood and survival. As a result, he flew to India in search of jobs and spent about four years away from home to earn money.
Meanwhile, Sabitra, through a women’s group at her community, became a member of one of cooperatives named Janacheta Women Agriculture Cooperative. There were around twenty-five Women’s Group in Dakabang where women learned about saving and credit skills and agri-based farming technologies. These groups were formed with support from Forum for People’s Awareness (FOPA) through Oxfam in Nepal. Eventually, these groups were turned into cooperatives to directly link them to economic sector. Later, Oxfam in Nepal’s Building Economic Resilience project supported in establishing cooperatives as business hub.
As part of the cooperative, Sabitra was able to enhance her capacity in the field of commercial vegetable farming and tunnel farming through various trainings such as bio-pesticide preparation training, compost manure preparation training, modern technological methods of farming, amongst other. After participating in number of trainings, she felt a strong desire to start her own initiative. Sabitra chose commercial vegetable farming as an enterprise.
She started farming on her own land and extended it to nine ropanies (1.13 acres) of land, applying suitable modern technologies which she had acquired from different trainings. As she was successfully carrying out her farming, she wanted her husband to share that success with her. Eventually, Shiva returned from India and together with his wife, they started to involve themselves in vegetable farming, committedly. They were delving into the world of farming with focused minds and started to analyze the ways of greater production. They loaned 60,000 Nepali rupees from the cooperative in low interest rate to add on the 50,000 Nepali rupees they already had. Within five months, they started getting the benefits from the business.
Sabitra and Shiva sold their products in nearby local market, project supported cooperative shop and district headquarter, Sandhikharka. They profited Nepali rupees 260,000 within five months by selling eight quintals of tomatoes, four quintal onions, one quintal cucumber, 50 kgs of garlic, 50 kgs beans, 22 kgs chilly and 50 kgs of capsicum. From the profit generated from their business, Sabitra and her husband invested that money in education of their daughter and sister-in-law.
In addition to this, the couple also received technical inputs and support from different agencies such as one tunnel from project supported cooperative, two tunnels from municipality in 50% subsidy, one tunnel from ward office, one power tiller, one plastic drum, one water spraying bucket and one sprayer from her women’s group. These supports strengthened their agency and provided added motivation to the couple to generate production in their own land, rather than going to foreign land for employment.
The ideal couple registered their enterprise as a Cottage and Small industry of Arghakhachi district. Now, they are planning to encourage other farmers for vegetable farming from their Awishma and Anuska Agriculture and Fruits form. “We are committed to provide agriculture products to cooperative’s shop as well,” said Sabitra. This farmer duo is now taken as an example in the communities for their dedication.
In the land of farmers where majority of community people practice farming, Building Economic Resilience project has supported to improve livelihood and food security of community people. It also strengthens cooperatives for promoting viable businesses, and to increase access of seasonal migrant families on safer remittance service and utilizing those remittance in productive sector.
By Shreedhari Pandey and Sofila Vaidya