Shova is a village in Chhaynanth Rural Municipality of Mugu District. Majority of the households involved in apple, medicinal herbal farming along with growing local staple crops. Shova, although under the jurisdiction of an urban municipality has no access to road transportation and, hence, local produce like beans, apples, paddy, and millet have to be transported by mules or humans. It takes a hike of six to eight hours to reach the nearest bazaar for buying basic supplies. Farmers also suffered from a lack of saving-credit services and could receive no financial support for adopting new agricultural technologies and techniques. Informed community members tried to register a cooperative, however, due to the poor economic condition of the locals, a general lack of awareness, and distrust for institutional saving schemes, the proposed cooperative establishment did not take off.
GNI Nepal conducted an awareness-raising and training program on the need of a cooperative and a 25 member cooperative was formed six years ago in Shova with an objective of improving the livelihood of 28. An accountant, a social mobilizer, and a group mobilizer run the day-to-day operations of the cooperative from its own two-storied building community members through micro-finance services and agro-products marketing. GNI Nepal supported the cooperative in formulating its regulations, trained the board members on cooperative management and accounting, and provided chairs, table, wall clock, official seal, punching machine, stamp pad, and stapler for furnishing the office.
An herbal sales store was built by the cooperative with GNI Nepal’s support in Thini of the same municipality. Also, for increasing membership, another neighboring community was granted eligibility. GNI Nepal also supported the construction of the cooperative building, membership increasing drive, 13 mules, solar power system, cupboard, CDMA phone, and steel furniture.
In 2017, the cooperative executive board members were trained on cooperative education, book-keeping, leadership, and organizational management. Financial and business literacy training has encouraged nonmember locals to join the cooperative, prepare business plans, and borrow credit to start enterprises. Under the financial support from the cooperative, five farmers have started a goat-rearing business while two are growing fruits, and one farmer has started an herbal nursery. As a measure for avoiding middlemen and increasing profits, the cooperative members are planning to market locally produced products like apples, handicrafts, garments, beans directly to wholesalers from Gamgadi, the district headquarter and Nepalgunj, the nearest biggest city in the plains.
An accountant, a social mobilizer, and a group mobilizer run the day-to-day operations of the cooperative from its own two-storied building. GNI Nepal right from the formation of the cooperative has been continuously providing technical as well as financial support. By the end of 2017, regular savings amounted to NRs. 788,000 and share money amounted to NRs. 433,200. At present, it has 290 shareholders (78 females and 212 males). 16 members have started their own micro-enterprises. Mobilizing capital as revolving fund, constructing community cooperative irrigation channel, opening a collective retail shop; constructing two-storied building and starting a cooperative canteen in the ground floor and retail shop on the first floor; procuring a locker for the safety of collected cash, projector for the training, photo printer for new shareholders; and setting up internet connection at the cooperative office are the plans for next year.