Empowerment Comes with Vegetable Farming

Sitapur Village is a small settlement in Kailali District comprised of fifty households. It is just five kilometers away from the market center in Tikapur Municipality– the main urban center in the district.  Though close to the main town in the district, it’s poor and backward in terms of socio-economic development. A large majority of the families have small land holdings (3-8 kathha, which is less than an acre) which they cultivate for producing food for household consumption.

Most of the time, the women of Sitapur would be confined within the four walls of their homes. They would shy away if they had to deal with strangers or introduce themselves to outsiders, let alone speak in public. Occasionally they worked as daily laborers at the local market. They were engaged in traditional farming. They also produced a limited quantity of vegetables in their kitchen garden in a traditional way. The families would buy vegetables at the market if the production from their kitchen gardens was not sufficient.

In 2012, an all-female group called Asal Aama Samuha was formed with the technical support from GNI Nepal. Currently, there are 23 members in the group. Trainings on group mobilization, leadership development, women rights, and vegetable farming were given to the group members for enhancing their knowledge and skills. Initially, the group started collective vegetable farming in 1.5 kattha of land. They produced 2,700 kilograms of vegetables in the first year, and net profit was NRs. 57,000. They were encouraged by the achievement and added 2 katthas to the farm area. They also made a rule which required every member to compulsorily save ten rupees per month.

Currently, the group cultivates vegetables in 5.5 kattha of land. The group’s net annual profit is between NRs. 50,000-70,000. Besides the collective vegetable farming, the group members have also started producing vegetables in their own land. The group members are earning NRs. 20,000-150,000 annually from their individual farms.

Group farming practice has given confidence, practical ideas of selling/saving/financial mobilization and know-how of vegetable farming to the housewives of Sitapur VDC. Inspired by its success, another group has also been formed in the same community. Asal Aama Samuha has also established a cooperative named Sunaulo Bhabishya (Bright Future). The cooperative’s share membership stands at 107.  The group is not only engaged in vegetable farming but conducting various activities/campaigns on sanitation, school enrollment and against open defecation, gender discrimination, and child marriage.

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