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AQUACULTURE in high altitude area is often been ignored or misinterpreted. There is general belief that fi shes do not grow well in the colder region because of low thermal regime. The lowland fi sheries people generally seem to believe that highlands fi sh farming is totally unsuitable and unrealistic, a complete waste of effort and resources. Because of such fi rm beliefs, the aquaculture production potential of the coldwater sector has not been exploited to its fullest. Among 40 thousand fi sh ponds constructed and developed in the country, majority of ponds (94%) are located in the southern plain, the ‘terai’ of Nepal contributing highest production while least is in mountain areas although potentiality of cold-water aquaculture seems high.

Indeed, there are some obstacles in highland areas owing to complex geographic and edaphic factors coupled with thermal variables. Moreover, the potentiality of coldwater aquaculture seems still high. In the past, it has so far failed because of lack of proper extension works. Fish farming in highland areas never received careful support, appropriate measures and innovations. As a result, the aquaculture programme started could not make any substantial impact in the hills and mountains of the country except some development in trout farming in recent years.

Carp polyculture is the major aquaculture system practiced in Nepal. It is gaining popularity among its practitioners mainly due to mixture of herbivorous/omnivorous fi sh species that feed low in the food chain and are cultured in semi-intensively managed earthen ponds. Carp polyculture alone contributes more than 90% of total production in the country.

In the upland waters particularly in hills and mountain areas, Indian major carps (rohu, naini & catla) do not grow well due to the low coldwaterfisherythermal regime. Chinese carps and common carps are believed to be possible solutions in such areas. Because they are eurythermal species and can tolerate wide range of temperature from as low as 0 0C to as high as 35 0C with optimum temperature from 20-25 0C for its grow-outs. They even can survive frozen-over water ponds. Common carp on the other hand are omnivorous, can eat herbivorous diet, scavenge detritus and benthic organisms of the bottoms and can be raised intensively. They can naturally breed and can spawn at 17-18 0C provided with suitable substrates.

With a view to overcome this situation to deal with cold water aquaculture, MDI attempted its effort to introduce common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in highland areas of Jumla (2566 m) during 2014. Though, there was no specifi c programme for fi sh farming, two farmers namely Bal Bir Mahat from Tatopani VDC and Rudra Krishna Adhikari from Garjyangkot VDC were selected for its culture in their already built ponds. These two farmers were growing local Asala fi sh (Schizothorax spp.) collected from nearby Tila river of Jumla. However, their growth was so slow that they were not satisfi ed and were in search of other good species which grows fast.

MDI through its RCIW project supported by World Food Programme managed some fi ngerlings of common carp from Fishery Development Centre (FDC) located in Mahadevpuri of Banke district and delivered fries through Yeti Airlines from Nepalgunj. Balbir Mahat stocked 50 fries in his 6 m2 cemented ponds and Rudra Krishna stocked 300 fries in his 60 m2 earthen pond on 21 May, 2014.

Just fed with local feeds as per recommendation mixed with maize fl ours (50%), rice bran (20%) and Jumli Simi (30%) constituting in overall 14% crude protein (CP) level, the weight of common carp was found to be 256 g in average with highest 565 g and lowest 167 g during the period of 467 days (21 June, 2014 to 1 September, 2015).

Water quality parameters were recorded on fortnightly basis. The average temperature varied from 19.2 0C in the morning hours to 20.5 0C during day hours with lowest 10 0C during 17 January 2015 and highest 23 0C on 1 September 2015. Dissolved oxygen and pH remained almost consistent with 10 and 7.5 respectively throughout the reporting period.

Common carp fed with locally available materials grew up to 200 g in 377 days (13 months) from 2 g of initial stocking size. Later when fed with commercially available pellet feed (26% CP) for almost 90 days thereafter, they grew up to 256 g in average from 200 g with highest weight 565 g. and lowest weight 167 g. The survival rate was 76% with mean growth 0.54 g/day, and extrapolated gross fi sh yield 34.72 kg/ha/day. The apparent feed conversion ratio was found to be 5.93 with a total feed cost of Rs. 297 per kilogram. The current market price of fi sh in Jumla is Rs. 500 per kilogram (2014 price index).

May be due to relatively higher temperature and high nutrient rich diet fed from couple of weeks earlier, spawning took place on 1 September, 2015. The temperature recorded during this day was 21 0C during morning hours and 23 0C during day hours. But unfortunately, hatching could not be successful. The researchers are attempting to investigate the real cause of this failure. Later, in1 June, 2016 (Jestha 19, 2073), MDI 10 attempted induced breeding using MT hormone. Spawning was successful after 12 hours of injection i.e. on 2 June, 2016 (20 Jestha, 2073) and successful hatchlings appeared after 75 hours i.e. on 23 Jestha, 2073. But unfortunately, once again hatchlings no longer survived and often experienced high rates of predation in the fi rst few hours mainly due to lack of isolated ponds where brood stock and hatchlings were kept together.

This small research works indicates that common carps were found as viable species for growing in colder region up to the level of 2566 m with satisfactory growth performance. The growth rate of common carp in other areas was also found similar. The growth of common carp observed in fi rst year was 300 g in China, 400 g in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia and 35-50 g in Europe (in year 1) and 350-500 g in year 2. This indicates that the growth of common carp is relatively satisfactory in Jumla situation as well. Hence, its culture is recommended for replication in wider scale throughout corridor of Tila River and associated streams up to the level of 2566 m.

The research team from MDI is highly indebted with United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) for fi nancial support provided to carryout this initiative in Jumla through RCIW project and with District Agriculture Offi ce (DAO) and District Development Committee (DDC), Jumla for their effective support and coordination provided to this research works.

Thanks !

Banana – The Savior Of The Landless

The month of July in 2003 was the darkest night in the life of Man Bahadur Praja who has now turned 51. A ϐierce slide pierced into his house located in Niguretar village of Rakshirang-8. All his landed property, livestock and house was destroyed in a ϐlash and he instantly turned into a landless. The property loss included 4 buffaloes, 37 goats, Rs.90,00 cash, 5 ton rice, one ton corn and 1.25 ha of prized khet land. His family had to pass the following nights under a tent. In the whole village, 18 people including women and
banana02children breathed their last breath. Government entities and NGOs carried out rescue works distributing food items. The survivors jumped into the limited food each trying to snatch the maximum share. At that moment, MDI came out with a truck-load of banana saplings. The victims, opting for ready made food, deplored the MDI consignment. Many of them even denied to accept those saplings. Man Bahadur was the only person who agreed to accept the offer – that too with a heavy heart. The same banana turned to be the causal factor for restoring his old glory. The 800 banana plants that he planted at that time began to bear after 18 months. From the income from banana, he bought a khoriya land in Khabase, across the stream in Niguretar at a cost of Rs.50,000. He started another agro-forest planting 1,500 banana saplings, 100 lime trees, 100 mango trees, 22,000 bushes of broom grass, 500 pineapple, 2,000 asparagus plants and large varieties of fodder trees and grasses. His own brother Darja Bahadur had sold the land to him with a malaise interest thinking that it will be engulfed by the slide. However, his plea did not materialize as the heavy plantation works had sufϐiciently bolstered the land’s resilience to environmental odds. He has now further diversiϐied his neo-enterprise with nursery, vegetables and bee-keeping. He now sells Rs.35,000 worth of banana, Rs.20,000 worth of saplings and around Rs.30,000 worth of amrisho brooms.

MDI’s reputation itself has been restored beyond imagination. The initial deploration has turneimagegalleryd into an accolade as MDI-preached agro-forestry model has now been instrumental in transforming the lives of several other villagers.
Man Bahadur himself is seriously obliged as he could educate his son up to Plus-2 level and 4 daughters up to high school level and continuing. He is now fully cognizant of the fact that the old devastating slide was due to villagers’ gross neglect of the environment and forest protection. The area is now heading towards all-round development. Mr. Man Bahadur now loves trees as if they are his own kins.

The Drought Ate Up The Crop Of Black Gram But Not Banana

There is an old saying in Nepali “jahan kera, tyahan Bahunko dera” meaning a Brahmin will reside there where banana is available. bananacropBrahmins then knew the nutritive value of banana – full of energy, and highest proportion of Vitamin K. Now banana is penetrating other farms too. A 30 year old Man Bahadur Praja from Rakshirang-8 of Western Makwanpur is on to this lucrative business. He has realized that when there was a severe drought last year, all his traditional crops like corn, black gram, horse gram failed and only the banana trees survived. He is proudly gazing those banana trees in his farm that could defy the extreme weather odds. His conϐidence level has reached a pinnacle in the sense that he will have decent livelihood in the days and years ahead even when there is stern drought. He now considers his banana trees as a treasure chest. Harping on his invaluable experience, other farmers from Rakshirang have also entered into banana farming. They are also diversifying the enterprise portfolio in their denuded and sloping khoriya farms with broom grass (amrisho), pineapple, lemon and fodder trees, besides banana. These plantations have not only provided the lush greenery and environmental safeguard but also adding to their much adored prosperity. Their story prior to such transition was quite pathetic. The traditional crops that they grew did produce only enough for 3 to 5 months in a year even when nature was benign. When nature wavered, there was nothing but mass destitution. Few more fortunate locals temporarily migrated to adjoining chitwan plains to ϐind works in brick kiln and cement block industries but those less fortunate ended up in very lowly paid wage jobs not mustering enough income even to repay old debts.

They were in desperate search for “better days” ahead. They felt some light coming through the tunnel when the staffs of Manahari Development Institute (MDI) narrated them about the right technologies and enterprises for their kind of denuded and sloping khoriya land, besides promising modest support from MDI. They were thoroughly convinced that their dream of “better days” lied not in what they were erstwhile doing, but in the plantation of banana, broom grass, pineapple that had ready market in the plains with prices that promised much higher income. Mr. Amrit Praja sold Rs.2,500 worth of broom grass and Rs.3,000 worth of banana last year and he expects to sell 3 times more broom grass this year. He has now 5,000 banana trees, 5,000 broom grass bushes, 1,500 pineapple and 25 lemon trees. The ready market Manahari is just half a day’s walking distance. With much enhanced income mainly from banana, he is now buying sufϐicient food, buying books and stationary for his 4 school enrolled daughters and meeting other household expenses. The greenery and environment conservation have come as a bonus and future safeguard against landslides and top soil loss. Moisture level in the soil was also retained for longer time ensuring that the garden grew more healthily. The community has now fully refrained from making forest ϐire, a nasty practice which they did before hoping against hope that this will improve soil nutrition level. Amrit and his family have now bade good-bye to those ominously frustrating old days.

Seemingly Worthless Khoriya Turned Famine Fighter

Kanchha Praja has recently turned 45. Since the days when he began to understand the world around him in khoriya01Ramba village, the word “famine” never ceased to prevail. Less than 6 months of food shortage was
considered a decent year. His principal duty was to collect wild tubers like gittha, bhyakur, and chuinya and the search was becoming competitive as all households resorted to the same for bare survival. Besides, without the wage earning works in the plains, ϐire could not be lit in the local ovens.

Kanchha has nkhoriya02ow no such compulsion of collecting the wild tubers. Khoriya full of banana, broom grass and fodder trees have not only eased his livelihood, but obviated the reality of having to eat desired food only during the main festival periods, that too often with borrowed resources. Kanchha narrates how the increased income from agro-forestry had made all this possible. He links the new feat as a boon from MDI. It has been 4 years since he has quit migrating to the plains for the wage job. His 40 odd years’ daily routine has undergone a sudden transformation. Sitting under the coolness of a banana tree in a peak summer month, he vividly recalls the past days spent toying with nature and relates how a small gesture of love towards nature can pay high dividend.

Gone Are Those Days When Hunger Was Quenched With Wild Fruits And Tubers

Kanchhi Maya Praja from Rupachuri village in Manahari-2, now turned 57, had never spent an easy day after her marriage. Until not so long past, she never could get a little fatty oil to cook the vegetables. The local food stuffs cooked in plain water and later mixed with salt and chilly were the incessant diets for hundreds of days in a spell. Even worse had been those days when famine struck the village like a roaring thunder.

After marriage, she gave birth to 5 sons and 5 daughters. Besides the care of countless children,huner01 the responsibility of Kanchhi Maya and her husband was to ensure that the whole family is adequately fed. Kanchhi Maya knew this better. Even during late pregnancy and early post-delivery, she had no respite from collecting the wild tubers. “Thanks to our forest, those tubers were available then. If the forest had been like what it is today, we would have surely died of hunger” – says Kanchhi Maya in a moaning voice. Now there is nothing left in the natural forest.

Of late, she is fully freed from household food scarcities. Food from forest has now become alien. Such a sudden change dates back to only few years. Agroforestry, and the staffs of MDI who taught the associated skills, were the key. Her farm now is full of greenery such that she cannot tell how many trees or shrubs of what species exist in her farm. Asked how many trees do you have in your farm?, the familiar answer is “kunni, kalle ganya chha ra” meaning nobody has counted it. Three years ago, she used to be labeled as the Banana merchant of the village. She was selling about Rs.10,000 worth of banana right from her doorstep without having to go to the market.

Her dream is not fulfilled yet. She is always in the quest of new and better yielding enterprise. The next enterprise was ϐishery for which she constructed 3 cemented ponds and one plastic pond to collect scarce water. The buyers of ϐish are the villagers themselves – the gittha eaters turned ϐish eaters.

Kanchhi Maya often ponders how could she do all this, and answers herself – It is due to the synergy of our effort over MDI’s campaign.

Chuwarpakha Rallying Towards The Road To Opulence

Mangal Moktan still has the lumps of dead cells in his palms. These lumps are not because he did hard manual labour in an enterprise. Not only Mangal, but most residents of Chuwarkhola have similar lumps. These lumps remind them of their past. That same past is driving them to redirect their courses of livelihood in a right direction.

At that time, the villagers used to gather equipping themselves with spades, sickles, chuwarpakha01ropes beddings and food stuffs to enter into the forest of Parsa Wildlife conservation for hunting and collecting wild tubers and asparagus. They used to spend the night under a tree cooking, dining and sleeping in separate groups of Tamangs, Chepangs and Dalits. Like Rautes of the western Nepal, they kept on changing the sites where they spent the night. Such practice continued for months together. Mangal conϐides that at a time, a group of 64 villagers entered the forest to dig asparagus and wild tubers. Showing the lumps in the hand, he said that these belong to that time.

When the guardians went to forest for hunting in an agricultural season, the lands were mostly left fallow and, as a result, famine was inevitable. Children did not go to school. Literate persons were hard to ϐind. The only known shield again famine was the Churiya forest. The villages had obviously been denuded. During March/ April, they practiced forest ϐire and killed snakes for food. Mr. Tularam Thing admits, “we spent much time in futility”. He recalls one event – there was honey comb in a sal tree (Shorea robusta) near the village. The villagers knew there was no honey inside the comb and yet they felt like chasing the bees. Two Chepangs climbed the sal tree and lit ϐire on the comb. Because of bee bite, one Chepang was paralysed right in the tree. The right part of his body did not move and was rescued with great difϐiculty. After that, the ϐire spread notoriously and the whole village was threatened but it was somehow controlled. The paralysed person died after few days. A life was unnecessarily lost for nothing. Progress and prosperity were seldom discussed. Smoking and drinking was common and foodstuffs were converted into alcohol.

One ϐine morning, the staffs of MDI reached Chuwarpakha village. They tried to deliver useful messages like tree plantation, construction of drinking water systems, etc. Most villagers felt the task to be virtually impossible. A few of those, however, liked the idea. MDI began its regular social mobilization and distributed the pineapple, banana, lemon saplings.solarpower Mangal planted the maximum saplings and some villagers laughed at him as he was relinquishing the traditional crops. Mangal won the last laugh after a year when he was able to sell thousands worth of banana. Others in the village also started to follow suit. Now there is a cooperative in the village. Forest fire is fully controlled. Fodder and litter for animals are available right within each farm. The whole mindset of the villagers has changed. Over 80 local children are attending school. Some villagers have been the vehicle owners. Mangal is selling at least Rs.200,000 worth of saplings. The list of ginger sellers is also not short. There was nobody who sold less than Rs.20,000 worth of ginger. Now the locals are planning to develop Chuwarpakha as the tourist destination. All houses have now improved toilet, bio-gas, solar power, and DW taps. Another 7 to 8 households are raising fish. The Cooperative chairperson Mr. Sanukanchha Titung says –“We do not want to show Chuwarpakha of the past but a model Chuwarpakha of today”

Why squander in alien land?

Fifty year old Deban Singh Rumba of Devkot has a bitter experience about working in an alien country. When he went to Malaysia in alienland2008, he could work for only 17 months. Adverse health condition and less than expected earnings compelled him return back to his home at Devkot. He had to be hospitalized in Malaysia due to uric acid problem and allergy. The company that he served did not pay for his medical expenses. He had to spend his own meager saving and when that was not adequate, he had to borrow from other Nepali workers. He thought that he should do something in Nepal itself. Having wasted over Rs.200,000 and precious time, he decided to embark on farming in his own land. Since then, he is incessantly heading towards the progress. Could vegetables be grown in a clayey soil of Devkot? – most people suspected. Deban grew off-season vegetables solely relying on the monsoon rain and was able to sell Rs.150,000 worth of vegetables in a year from his half a bigha land. He mostly grew tomatoes and cauli- ϐlower which fetched high prices in Hetaunda. Had he grown traditional crops, he could have earned at best Rs.9,000. He is now fully convinced that the path to progress lies not in an alien land but in one’s own country and village.

A 4-member Deban family (husband, wife and two sons) is now one of the happiest family in Devkot. The elder son Milan is studying science in a reputed college of Hetaunda while the younger son Devraj is studying maths in 12th grade. This is a feat which he had not imagined. His previous highest target for his sons was to complete 10th grade.

Vegetable growing in Devkot had started since 2005. Most households used the water from drinking water taps collecting the water overnight, or when not in use, in a tank to irrigate vegetables

In the last rainy season, MDI offered Mr. Deban to construct a plastic poly-house (6m x 12m dimension). He grew tomatoes inside the poly-house and was amazed to see the harvest. Rs.23,000 worth of tomatoes were sold from that tiny area. Now he is extending 4 more poly-houses on his own. He notes that the advantage of poly-house is high vegetable yield, low disease pest infestations and labour saving. Most of the 73 households of Devkot are now growing at least some vegetables. The price of land has sky-rocketed but no household is willing to sell the land. Until 2005, the price of land was Rs.9,000 per katha which has now reached Rs.150,000.

Shovar Singh Confesses – Amrisho Must Be Planted

Shovar Singh Pamrishoraja resides in Jirkhedanda village of Rakshirang-8. He has long quit traditional farming – not that he does not know about it. Having fed-up from traditional farming, he has posited himself as progressive farmer, pursuing environmentally friendly agriculture.

He is now raising his family of 8 persons decently. His environment-friendly crops have been instrumental for his current stance. Not
only has he been successful in raising the family, he has also been able to add up tangible resources in his farm. He started growing amrisho since 2008 and is selling 800 pieces of broomso each year.. His bitter experience of 2003 landslide gave him impetus to appreciate MDI’s suggestion for naturefriendly farming.

Shovar had only one hectare farm which has now reached 3 hectares. He is also planning to buy some more land which he had
cultivated on annual lease. Once a virtual landless, he has now become a proud owner of land. Banana and pineamrisho01apple are upcoming prospects. Pineapple sells for Rs.15 and amrisho, Rs.25 per piece. Shovar Singh now fully internalizes the astounding transformation that has happened in his small world with a small luck and modest effort. He says “now there is no way of our reverting back to old practices. We will further multiply the nature-friendly farming not only because it greatly enhances our livelihood but also because it can keep us away from the angry facet of nature if we toiled with it”.

Ultimately Bhurunge Community Has The Water Of Life

Bhurunge is a small community settled by some 26 households of Magar Communities in Dwari VDC-2 located in some 22 km distance northeast of district headquarter, Dailekh. Many of the Bhurunge communities had to toil hard for fetching water which taxed a time of almost an hour to bring a potfull of water that too of women who are overtly burdened with the hue and cry against the water availability reached a crescendo from women. The villagers requested to the political leaders, other social leaders for managing drinking water supply in the village. But no entity came forward to entertain this noble and humble quest.

The ultimate rescue lied at the hands of PRRO whose presence was at the site thanks to the support from the World Food Prgramme. wateroflifeHowever, due to its limited budget it was difficult to attend to the ensuing problem. The Everest Club, a NGO of Dailekh which has under taken the responsibilities of the PAF programme in this VDC ϐinally took initiatives to meet this lot to be desired longing of the communities in Bhurunge. Even the designated implementing organization was faced with a problem cost maneuver of a large project that could hardly be financed from a meager non-food items support from PAF. Realising the gravity of the problem Mr. Tek Bahadur K.C, Programme Coordinator-PAF came to the MDI ofϐice in Dailekh and asked for food support at least for unskilled labor in digging trench and collection of non-local materials. MDI responded in its natural positive gesture to provide required to this naturally deserving initiative.

The project cost was a formidable Rs.1,181,011 Including unskilled labour. The total distance from its source to the distribution tank was about 1 km, Towards the tail end, 6 drinking water taps were proposed with 2.07 Km alignment under trench opening. PAF support was mainly limited to providing NFI materials such as cement, pipes and other fitting materials.

drinkingwater02MDI and Everest Club signed MoU and allocated resources on behalf of them. Everest Club facilitated the use of PAF fund Rs. 871,231 for the purchase of non-local construction materials which is deposited in UC’s account and MDI allocated 3.872 MT. of food commodities for unskilled labour including 50 percent cash cost worth Rs. 154,890 to pay for unskilled labour. The construction work started from November 2011 and completed during the month of May 2012.

Now the project has given beneϐits to 169 community members with safe water for household use. In addition they are taking extra beneϐit in terms of irrigating their vegetable crops using surplus water supply. The time for fetching water has reduced from 1 hour to 5 minutes and that saved time has been properly used for growing vegetables and other works. The diarrhea and other water borne diseases have been dramatically reduced. The community has established rules on collecting water tariff from its users to meet the operation and maintenance (O & M) cost for sustenance.

In this project PAF delivered all the NFI material in time through the User’s Committee with its close monitoring to ensure that the funds are used judiciously without any form of misappropriation. The process of delivery of construction materials and cash was found to be quite acceptable to the user’s community of that area.

Local communities appreciated from the bottom of their heart to PAF, WFP and MDI contributing to this rather daunting task and galored the new and much adored developed. Learning from this partnership, PAF has supported three more drinking water projects in Baluwatar-5, Dwari-9 and Kalika-5 serving other 116 households. The total cost rendered to complete these projects is Rs. 4,676,480 of which PAF has contributed as NFI Rs. 3,699,080 and WFP by Rs. 488,700 in cash and the 10.860 MT of food commodity equivalent of Rs. 488,700.

By Khop Narayan Shrestha & Binod Shrestha

Polyhouse Technology For Poverty Eradication

Mr. Iman Singh Thing, now 31 years old, is a native dweller of Dandabas village falling in Agra VDC ward no. 5 of Makawanpur district. He has been growing off-season tomato (variety Sirjana) inside the two plastic tunnels of 5m X 11m dimensioneach since last 4 years fetching sizeable cash income from its sale. This technology was demonstrated by MDI Nepal (Manahari Development Institute-Nepal)  polyhouse01with its head ofϐice located at Hetauda. A distinct feature of this technology is that it provides warm condition for the crop from the harsh cold condition that prevails in the open lands of the mountain. Besides, the tunnel also saves the crop from gusty winds, hailstones and snow. Prior to the introduction of this promising technology, Local households grew only traditional crops like maize, millet, barley, etc., which barely met their food needs for about 3 to 6 months. Dazzled by the awesome deprivation, local people sought resort in farm and nonfarm works in distant locations including remittance jobs in alien countries. Mr. Thing had also gone to Maldives in a bid to overturn his family’s fortune. Upon return, he located the fortune right in his homestead. Some left-over earnings from Maldives was also used in the tomato farming. The tomatoes grown inside the tunnels are sold to the traders from Kathmandu. In the previous season, Mr. Thing sold the tomatoes at a decent rate of Rs.45 to 80. This season, he has already sold 300 kg of tomato and there is more left in the tunnel (about another 500 kg). Inspired by Mr. Thing’s feat, 45 other households of the village have also initiated to ride on their luck with the amazing technology with support from Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. The training for tunnel construction and vegetable farming was organized in Bhaktapur district. Of these new entrants, Mr. Bhim Bahadur Gole expects to earn Rs. 60,000 this season from tomato, alone which is fully harvested within 3 months. Mr. Roshan Subedi, the agricultural expert from MDI claimed that all the tomatoes produced within tunnels in the village are fully organic and thus good for human health. Some households have even mixed Akabare chilly with tomato as another high value crop. All tunnel owners of Dandabas have collectively sold up to Rs. 2.5 million worth of vegetables and spices grown inside the tunnel and are inspiring other villagers to join the tunnel campaign led by Iman Singh. Dandabas thus has been a pioneering village in the whole of Makawanpur district when it comes to village farming within the tunnel.

Unofficial translation by Dr. Govind P. Koirala from a news published in Kantipur, a local vernacular daily, on August 3, 2012.

A Rural Road That Has Replaced Marijuana With Potatoes

Dhumsikharka, inhabited largely by ethnic Tamang community, was once rated an inaccessible village, but no more. A 4.5-km ruraroad ruralroad01that connects the village with a nearest old bazaar, Dandabas, has connected Dhumsikharka to the larger world, brining in fresh hopes in the lives of the poor farmers – thanks to “Pakanikharka Rural Road User’s Committee” that the nine different community organizations of Agra, Gogane and Darakharkha Village Development Committees (VDCs) formed to expedite the construction of the lifeline two years ago. The road alignment connects three districts namely Makawanpur, Dhading and Chitwan, and injected new life to the villagers, more than 80 percent of whom are the people of ethnic origins (Tamang, Chepang, Magar and Gurung) and are living under the worse form of poverty. Because of the high poverty prevalence and equally high population of ethnic people, Makawanpur was selected for support under PAF’s special window program. PAF agreed to ϐinance Rs 3.50 million for constructing 2.5 km of the road upon the request of the community organizations and the communities extended the road to 4.5 km connecting more villages. The project is beneϐiting more than 8,000 populations directly. The number of people enjoying beneϐits indirectly is still more. Villagers are now farming potatoes, beans and different kinds of green vegetables after the road link was constructed.

ruralroad02Considered as a golden triangle for farming marijuana, these remote villages had no other livelihood options before. Its remoteness had made it a perfect site for such illegal farming. Many farmers who were unable to pay ‘due share’ to the police often ended up in jail, serving terms for many years. And the story was repeated every year. Now the case is different. The farmers have begun farming potatoes and vegetables, and are leading a digniϐied life, without the fear of police intimidation. “Poverty was the sole reason why we used to grow marijuana”, Sun Bahadur Lama, 40, also a member of the users committee for the road construction told us. Before farmers used to plant maize and now they have switched to many varieties of vegetables that have more commercial value. “Previously, we used to walk 4 – 5 km to reach the nearest road and it cost us more than 5 rupee per kg. Now the cost does not stand even a penny.” Lama adds. “I have expanded vegetables farming in all 7 ropanis of land I own. Before it was only in 3 ropanies” says Chiring Thing, 45, a resident of Dumsikharka. This has increased Thing’s earning to more than Rs 10,000 from Rs 5,000 of the past. And this increased income is helping him to raise his 7 children. “This has contributed a lot in their education. I need not borrow loans from the local moneylenders at an exorbitant interest rate as well.” Thing is a member of Namuna CO, a member of the functional group among the nine COs. The villagers say that each individual household are earning Rs 80-90 thousand a year in an average because of road connectivity. This has also enabled some villagers to send their kids in the Hetauda and Palung Bazaar to get better education. The road was inaugurated 10 months ago by the local political leaders and representatives of the Constituent Assembly. Inspired by the present beneϐits, the villagers said they want to connect the road to Bhandara in Chitwan district, joining more than four additional VDCs. They are hopeful that the enhanced connectivity will open new avenues and increase prospects for further raising their living standard. The Dhumsikharka villagers enthused by the road support have recently demanded a drinking water schemes. PAF has provided Rs 1.3 million for the project that beneϐits 45 households. The community has contributed over Rs 0.92 million in the form of labor. The villagers are also in the process of installing biogas in their villages. They are setting up a micro hydro as well and are also seeking to raise goats

“We want to make this village ‘an ideal village’,” says JitBahadurMoktan, 61.

By Mr. Sri Ram Subedi Communication Officer, PAF

Padam Ghale Charts A Glimpse Of Change Brought About By Rural Road Connection At Dumsikharka Village

A 19.3 km long rural road linking a remote Dumsikharka village in Dandagaon was completed with the joint effort of MDI, WFP, Poverty dumsikharka_villageAlleviation Fund (PAF), Makwanpur District Development Committee (DDC) and the local people. PAF and DDC provided cash resources, WFP provided rice, local people provided their unskilled labour while MDI provided technical support in materializing the road connection. The people of Dumsikharaka had not thought even in their wildest dream that their village would be connected to the rest of the world so soon. This road is a part of the planned connection from Palung valley to Bhandara in Tarai via Dandabas and Bhakundebas, the locations which were considered extremely remote. A number of people had starved to death during 1993 flood and landslides because it was difficult to rescue them due to remoteness. In this context , a team of 4 staffs from MDI including the Chairperson visited the newly connected Dumsikharka village to have a chat with the elated local people. The new access to market had motivated the local people to start vegetable farming. An influential local leader Mr. PadamGhale provides a concise account of the changes brought about by the road in the village during an exclusive interview with him. The exact dialogue with him is as follows:

Padamdai, In what work are you busy these days?
– I am constructing poly-house for vegetable nursery. This is the right season for vegetable nursery.

Which vegetables are you planning to grow?
– I am giving emphasis to chilly. Bell pepper and tomato because these are more profit generating.

Since when are you growing vegetables?
I am growing vegetables since last 3 years when this village was connected by road.

How was this road constructed and who supported in the construction of this road?
– This road was constructed with the support from PAF, WFP, Makwanpur DDC, our labour contribution and the technical support from MDI.

Can you describe briefly as to what are the observed changes in the village status before and after the road connection?
– Before the road link, this village was no less than hell because we had to spend 2 days even to go to the district headquarter. If some dumsikharka_village02person fell sick, there was no treatment facility near-by. Villagers use to die due to lack of treatment. We had unirrigated sloping land where we could grow one maize crop in a year – that too not very productively. The maize crop took 10 months to yield but it was not sufficient even for 2 months. We were thus compelled to go to India and other places for doing mostly risky works. After road link, there has been enormous change – a change that we had not imagined. Those villagers who had gone outside have returned back and are doing vegetable farming. We have been able to sell vegetables in right prices which has enhanced our livelihood considerably. Now we do not have to die of sickness in want of treatment and medicines.

How many crops of vegetables do you grow in a year and how?
– We take three crops of vegetables in a year – potato from December to April, Radish from May to April and nursery in poly-house in the remaining period.

How do you take your vegetables to market and how far and in which places does your vegetables reach?
– We sell around 9-10 mt vegetables in a year. It is transported by vehicles to several places of the country. The major markets are Hetauda, Pokhara, Kathmandu, Narayanghat and Palung.

What is the total value of vegetables sold in a year from this village?
– It is difficult to say exactly but the crude estimate is around Rs.10 million worth.

What do you consider is the main cause or factor for the transformation of this village?
– The first and foremost is, of course, the road link. I consider road as a prime prerequisite for the initiation of economic and social development. Next, the 11 water taps provided by MDI for micro-irrigation have also become instrumental.

With the road link, have there been other benefits too?
– Certainly. The village has now been like heaven. Our youths have now been able to buy motor-bikes. We can now reach Palung bazaar in an hour which used to take a full day before. Many villagers can now afford to educate their children in cities and quality schools. There is a boarding school right in the village. While previously we could not afford to sent children even in the cheaper government schools, we are now sending them to boarding schools.

Finally, would you like say something to any organizations or individuals?
– Yes, first I want sincerely thank MDI which has played a vital role in mustering resources from different organizations for the construction of this road. I would also like to thank Makwanpur DDC for their generous support. Personally, I would like to appreciate the Chairperson of MDI, Mr. Khop Narayan Shrestha, for his unflinching faith upon us, and his sincere support.

Down To Up

Mr. Narayan Rimal, 41, cherishes reminiscing the past. He recalls = all his village mates could not think of anything else but adequate down2upfoodfor the family. How could one think of progress when basic requisites are hard to confront. Working in other’s farm was a routine for less than modest livelihood. Any untoward incidences like death in the family had no other solution than selling land at price dictated by the buyer. Even those relatively well-off in the village were in the quest for buying food for the family. Nearly one hectare of land failed to produce sufϐicient food for the family of 5 members – imagine how difficult it would have been the situation for those who had only little land.

This is the story of Manahari VDC ward no. 8. Here, about 100 families are toiling hard to make a living. The village occupying about 40 bighas of land was like a desert when it came to production. A little maize and potato was all that could be successfully harvested. The months of April-may was often marred by dusty gust of wind that seriously affected local people’s health. These nasty conditions precluded the establishment of any basic educational and health establishments in the village.

Despite all these odds, the people of Rajaiya had not lost their zeal to develop. Of necessity, they had developed the tenacity to cope with even the worst circumstances. The will-power to survive against the extreme of odds was there. If only the basic livelihood was eased, they were willing to put forward an extra effort to develop the village. But the way forward was seemingly impossible. A state of despair could have ruled the whole village under such pathetic circumstances. Little land, lack of appropriate technology and above all, lack of water for irrigation were the basic problems that explained their backwardness

There came a day when all villagers levitated to combat all odds with their innate strength. Electric power connection had been recently established in the village. The villagers collectively thought that they could irrigate the land by using the newly connected power to irrigate their land by lifting the water from near-by Rapti river. Villagers believed that the cultivation of vegetables with irrigation can overturn their past fate. Market for vegetables was not adjudged as a problem because the highway was near and large Hetaunda market was in the ofϐing. However, buying pump system for lifting water for irrigation was a distant dream. They had no resources to finance such an expensive proposition.

In an opportune moment, Manahari Development Institute (MDI) marked its presence in the village. MDI authorities discussed freely with the villagers. The plan was made and road to implementation of the plan was quickly worked out. Local people organized themselves in the banner of Kedareshwar Group. The long-awfe as equally important to their own aited overturn of the villager’s fate began to take shape. The seemingly impossible feat turned feasible with support from MDI for pump buying and technical support for vegetable production.

Now there is complete transformation. The past is gone by, perhaps never to loom around again. There is enough cash in the village with sale of vegetables. The village is now clean and tidy. There is greenery everywhere. Famine in the village has been an almost forgoeten past. A new wave of organic vegetable production has overridden the chemical agriculture meaning that they have begun to consider the consumer’s life as equally important to their own. Their own Kedareshwar Cooperative has made a business of Rs.5.4 million – says a local Jagadishwar Pokhrel. Now, Rajaiya has been converted into a site where people from all around come to visit to see and appreciate the model that ensures quickest transformation of extreme poverty to afϐluence. Were we really poor in the past in now a naïve question.

Fish Farming in Plastic Tank

Fish farming in pond is a relatively new practice in the rural area of Makawanpur. It is further strange in Chepang community although fishpondthey are popular in fishing in natural rivers and lakes. Mr. Arde Singh Praja perhaps is the first person from Chepang community who demonstrated a successful project on fish farming in Kankada of Makawanpur, Nepal. Since its successful harvest many other Chepang families are attracted in fish farming programme in Kankada and peripherals.

Learned fish farming in plastic water harvest tanks from ICIMOD demonstration farm in Godavari, MDI staff Mr. Ram Krishna Praja initiated this demonstration project in Kankada. He suggested Mr. Arde Singh Praja to do this job. Mr. Arde dug a 1 m depth pond with 9.30 m in length and 7.30 m width. This area is the one seventh of a ropani of land. Ram Krishna provided him silpaulin plastic for this pond for collection of water. Note that the area is so fragile that water can not be stored without using plastic.

Mr. Arde Praja kept 1300 fingerlings of common carp and Naini in this pond during June, 2008. Out of them some 300 fingerlings died due to lack of proper management. He continued to grow remaining 1000 fingerlings in the pond. In five months period on October 4, 2008 during Dashain festival, he harvested 40 kilograms of fish from this pond and sold it with Rs. 110 per kilogram. Thus, he received Rs. 4,400 from a very small pond of 67.89 m3.

It gives a per Ropani gross income of Rs. 32,405 which is normally higher income than from sales of vegetable crops. From sales of vegetable normally one can receive Rs.10-12 thousand per ropani in this locality. Normally, fisheries activities in Nepal are performed by men. But, his wife Mrs. Pratima Praja was fully involved in feeding fish and pond maintenance which require intensive daily management.

She tells that this is good enterprises for housewives as the feeds can be locally prepared and there are no more technical complexities. We have to feed two times a day and require 100 grams of oilcakes and 300 gms of corn flour each time until three months and 200 gms of oilcakes and 300 gms of corn flour from three months onwards. The quantity of the feeds needs to be gradually increased as the growth of the fingerlings.

She marks that being new pond and first experience in fish farming, the growth of the fingerlings was not so satisfactory. However, we will try best in other lots. In five months period she used 30 kg. of oilcake and 40 kg. of corn flour rendering a total cost of Rs. 1,500 in total. With this assumptions, the financial analysis shows a net profits of Rs, 1,856 (Table.1).

The financial Analysis

1  Fixed Cost
Pond Depreciation @ 2.5% of Rs. 11,000
(Silpaulin Plastic Rs.10,000 & Digging Cost Rs.1,000)
Labour Cost for feeding
(2250 minutes with 15 minutes per day x @ Rs. 100/8 hours)
2 Operational Cost
(Rs. 0.10/fingerling)
(Oilcake 30 kilogram = Rs. 30 x 30 kg =Rs. 900;
Corn flour 40 kilogram = Rs. 15 x 40 kg = Rs. 600)
3 Total Cost (1+2) 2543
4 Income
Gross Sales (40 kg x Rs. 110/kilogram) 4400
5 Net Benefits (4-3) 1856

Mr. Arde tells that this is successful enterprise and very relevant to poor families like chepangs since the local feeds of corn flour & oilcakes which is available at household level is enough for feeding fingerlings. He suggests that there should be more than two species in the pond so that feeds can be efficiently utilized. The species should be fast growing in nature. Of the two species, the growth of Naini was found better than that of common carp. The use of plastic is good but still natural soil pond could be of better productive compared to plastic ponds. Moreover, there is no alternative of plastic tanks in such a fragile area like ours.

He has added another 1500 fingerlings of different species in the same pond. The species are Naini, Grasscarp, Bigheadcarp, Silvercarp and Rohu. He is planning to upscale the scheme by constructing more other ponds.

All the products were sold in the village itself. He says there is no any market problem even for larger quantities. We have popular local fish market Manahari where we can sell even large quantities of fish. It is just located in half an hour distance in the east-west highway from where fish are supplied in major cities of Nepal and India as well. Only the thing is that we have to be able to produce fish. This successful demonstration of fish farming in the village for the first time has opened up an alternative to successfully integrate a new component in existing crop-livestock mixed farming system for income generation. With this success many villagers have been attracted towards this technology and have asked for support.

By Mr. Ram Krishna Praja/Translated by Mr. Khop Narayan Shrestha

Least Worried About Selling Fishes

Ram Bahadur Thing of Handikhola -7 is a normal farmer. Otherwise a practitioner of traditional farming has a large family. In order to make a modest living, few of his family members were also involved in carpet weaving, a profession which could take a heavy toll in the health of the worker. The family is making an often hard living with contributions from all family members.

Since three years ago, Ram Bahadur has indulged in fish farming. Although the new initiative has not been so financially lucrative, yet fish01he understands its value in terms of family nutrition. This initiative was the result of MDI’s partial financial and technical backing and mobilization. In the beginning, he reared Mahur (catfish) fish but has recently shifted to tilapia. Mahur was an experiment – who says poor people cannot experiment. His experiment proved beyond doubt that Mahur fish farming is not a financially attractive proposition. The reason, he stated was that a carnivorous fish can never provide adequate return because it eats up other fishes in the pond. He sold Rs.10,000 worth of fish last year,. He says that I never had to go to Hetauda to sell my fishes because I have been unable to fulfill even the local market demand. When there was rumor about Ram Bahadur opening his farm for fish sales, the supply of 1000 kgs was less than the local demand. He has not taken any training on fish keeping. His only knowledge on fish keeping comes from the instructions provided by the technicians of Hetauda fish farm from where he got the fingerlings. Technical support from MDI was available when required. He feeds his fishes with corn flour, grass and custom fish feeds. He understands that fish keeping is not so taxing in terms of time unlike in other businesses. All one has to ensure is to provide feeds to fishes on a timely basis.

fish02Ram Bahadur, a normal farmer of Handikhola-7, Chisapani is involved in fish rearing without any training is fully convinced that it is a profitable enterprise. Convinced from the enterprise’s financial viability, he is considering adding two more fish ponds. He has changed his original pattern of guest hospitality – that of offering chicken to feeding them fishes which is more economical. While feeding chicken for guest hospitality would cost 5 to 7 hundred rupees, the cost is much lesser if fish is used. Inspired from his practice, other villagers have also begun to follow suit by constructing fish ponds.

Now I Should Not Go For Foreign Job For Earning Money

My name is Mangal Bahadur Tamang. I have dreadful story in my life.I was born in November 8, 1972 in Narayani zone of notgoforforeignjobMakawanpur district in Hadikhola VDC-7. I have 12 members in my family. I have been working as a social worker anda farmer. Iam just a literate person and I have read up to grade 2. There were not school in our village at that time and parents were also illiterate. I was admitted in school in 1983. I become first in grade one but ended when I was studying in grade 2 when I felled down from a tree and broken my hand. Due to this I could not attend the class for three months. Then I left study. Then after, I had to face painful days. My whole property had collapsed by firing on my house. Everything including home, grains, wearing, and domestic appliances were damaged by fire. Our misery life had begun since that day. We had little land, yet not registered. We did not have enough food for feeding our families. I had to earn money by knitting bucket and selling kurilo (asparagus) collected from the forest.

In 2001, MDI-Nepal officers came in the village and asked for training. I took first training in vegetable farming methods. MDI also organized an exposure trip in Baglung and Pokhara. I had opportunity to participate in this exposure visits. I was excited when I saw vegetable farming in Baglung and determined to do something in my village. I did so later when I returned back from the trip. There was scarcity of drinking water in the village. Villagers had to go miles away just for fetching water. Later SAPPROS Nepal, a NGO supported a drinking water project with support from Fund Board, Nepal. This gave me a little hope to irrigate my vegetable crops.

In 2004, MDI Nepal came with some projects from UNDP GEF Small Grant Programme. MDI facilitators asked for having plantation works in areas greatly affected through chure crisis. We also established one small group of few persons for taking these services. Later this groups has been upgraded as registered cooperative called as ‘Churia Agricultural Cooperative Ltd.. We have 216 share members now collecting adequate funds as saving.

As per advice of MDI, our group decided to plant banana and pineapples in areas with marginal slope lands. Earlier we had no more expectations. I myself planted one thousand banana suckers, two hundred lemon plants, one thousand broom grasses and five hundred turmeric plants. Now, my farm has full of banana, pineapples, broomgrass and other cash crops. In 2005, I also received nursery training in citrus in Dhankuta supported by the project. After the training, I have established nursery of lime and produces 6-10 thousand saplings annually. Now, I receive forty two thousand rupees by selling lemon saplings, twelve thousand from raw lemon, and thirty thousand from banana. In average, my income is eighty four thousand per year.

I am now satisfied. All my family members involve actively in developing agroforestry. What I would like to tell others like me that we do not have to go foreign just for money. We have lot of opportunity here, which we have to be able to see. We could not see it earlier but when MDI people advised us we did it and escaped from such a dreadful life. It’s not only the income that we are getting, we are also protecting our environment. The churiya range which is in a very destructive shocks, we have shown an alternative that a simple tool can protect it and enhance livelihood of locals dependent with churiya biodiversity. I would like to thank MDI-Nepal, GEF Small Grant Programme for showing me this path and publish my story.

Once again greeting!

Vegetables And Poultry-A Source Of Nutrition For Mother And Children

After initiation of nutrition project supported jointly by World Food Programme and the Embassy of Denmark, Mrs. SitaRajkoti in poultrycoopBhuttarestablished a beautiful kitchen garden in 600 m2 area near her homestead using micro-irrigation faciltiy supported by the project. She grows vegetables like cauliflower, radish, broad leaf mustards, carrots and several other seasonal vegetables, which have higher nutrient composition. In addition,she has also small poultry coop where she keeps improved breed of poultry birds (egg laying) supported by the project. Initially, she had given 6 poultry birds from the project. In 6 months period, it started laying eggs. Encouraged with this, she added some more birds. Now, she has 25 poultry birds all egg layers with few male birds. All the birds give eggs. She has her record that each month she collects 550 eggs from these birds. Most of the eggs are consumed at home for children and some surpluses are sold in the village at Rs. 10 per egg. Thus she collects around Rs. 2,500 to Rs. 3,000 from egg sales and Rs. 1,000 from vegetable sales.

She had not thought like this before. Now she feels that it’s really encouraging for such a mothers like me who have children. This has really added nutrition supplement to mothers and children. This is the simple method we didn’t do because of lack of knowledge and awareness. Now, there is awareness among all mothers and families and doing their best like me. Many other members from my group come to see my systems that I have managed and they learn from this. I have now become village model farmer (VMF) in my village. I regularly attend the group meeting, which is held in my own home, and share our experiences in the meeting.

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