Sarshwoti Chaudhary, 35 years, is a resident of Sitapur Kailali. She is a mother of two beautiful girls; Anjali (14 years) and Salina (six years). She was married to Hiralal at a very young age of 10-12 years. Hiralal was also of the same age. She and her husband were sharecroppers—getting 50 % of all the produce. Life for the couple was a struggle every day.
The Chaudhary family grew paddy once a year in their one bigha (0.67 hectares) of rice paddies. The total yield a year was 20 quintals of paddy— not enough for fulfilling the necessities of the family six. Hence, Hiralal went to India at the young age of seventeen to the Garhwal Mountains in India. There he worked menial jobs. Every year he came back home during Dashain, stayed for another 3-4 months and went to India again. When at home, he pulled rickshaw in the nearby Tikapur Bazaar.
Anjali is a GNI Nepal sponsored child and a seventh grader at a nearby school. Salina is a third grader. In 2011, Sarshwoti became a member of GNI Nepal supported agricultural group. NRs. 85,000 was provided to the group by GNI Nepal as seed money to be revolved among the members for starting agricultural enterprises.
After receiving entrepreneurship and banana farming training funded by GNI Nepal, Sarshwoti and Hiralal planned to start commercial banana farming in 2015. She received NRs. 42,000 loan from the group and NRs. 18,000 grant from GNI Nepal. They cultivated William Hybrid Variety of banana in five Kattha (0.17 hectares) of their land. This much land would produce around seven quintals of rice worth NRs. 15,000 only, while banana fetches almost fifteen times that amount.
They made NRs. 200,000 from the first harvest and earned a net profit of NRs. 70,000 and repaid the loan. In 2016, they earned NRs. 120,000. All banana plants except, a very few, are healthy. This season monkey finger disease was seen in some fruits. Otherwise, for Sarshwoti and Hiralal, their future in banana farming is rosy. As a contingency plan, Sarshwoti is regularly saving a small portion of their earnings at a GNI Nepal supported cooperative.
Sarshwoti shared,”This year we will double the cropping area. I want to tell other people like me that it’s possible to make a good amount of money from banana farming … and our life is also quite better now”.