Rainfall is still scarce but now Nawathana is ready

Prolonged drought meant that food shortages were common in Nawathana, a village in the far-west of Nepal, its most food insecure region. Young men were forced to find work in India in order to feed their families and women were left to manage the children and the fields.

Rainfall continues to be sparse, but now harvests have improved for farmers in this village in the remote far west of Nepal.

This is thanks to a  field school, set up to help farmers learn  drought resilient techniques. Members of the group are learning and innovating in their own field using drip and sprinkler irrigation, mulching and are trying out new types of crop. 

Chair of Nawathana farmer field school Kala Devi Kunwar explained.

"At first we were little hesitant to start as we were suggested, later our neighbours and some local leaders also encouraged us to follow the classes on climate change issues. We planted cucumber and zucchini in our lands in the sideline of wheat. The vegetables stared fruiting a month earlier than harvesting wheat. We benefited more than five times the income than that from wheat."

Other farmers were equally enthusiastic about what they had learned.

"We had no idea about seasonality and market price of vegetables before we started field school; but now we came to know that vegetables can be grown very late and very early that often fetch very high market price. I sold Malini variety of cucumber in the month of November. I learned to dig deep pits and mix manures with soil which helped me yield fruits for longer period.”                                   Jaldhara Devi Kunwar

“I was not aware about the stages of plant growth before I got to the climate field school; nowadays I am learning many things each season observing plant’s growth at my own field. Tip pinching at six leaf stage in Malini during long drought forces for more branching which is suitable for more fruits from a single plant, this technique is good when water is scarce.”                                                Kaushila Devi Kunwar



In the early hours of Saturday morning women near Sanphe Bagar of Achham District start loading their baskets) with fresh farm produce. Some pluck tomatoes from their gardens while others pack cauliflowers, cabbages, radishes, onions and many other varieties of vegetables. Some get busy packing spices including ginger, chilies and turmeric. They all get ready for the Saturday market in Sanphe Bagar.

This market began in 2015 with the support of Practical Action’s POSAN project.

As well as introducing new technologies on production and harvesting, providing irrigation and processing facilities, and giving technical trainings on seasonal and off seasonal vegetable production the project is to helping develop the market for vegetables and spices to benefit poor farmers.

It was hard to break into conventional supply chains when farmers in the district began to grow different vegetables and spices. Because local supply had often been patchy and insufficent in quantity, markets in the urban centres were supplied by imports from the plains and from India.

To address this problem this Saturday market offered hope to 22 poor women farmers by developing a vegetable and spice farm and a market hub to sell their produce. There was much negotiation to do with local government and other local organisations before the market could start.  But now it gives local farmers the vital link with wholesalers, spice processors and larger grocery firms and Locals can now buy a variety of fresh vegetables.

Demand has steadily increased and now the market operates on Tuesdays as well.

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