"For years, I had been migrating to India to escape poverty. With this WFP-supported training, there is no reason to go to India again. Why should I go to India when I can make a living here from organic farming?" -- Chandra Saud, former WFP beneficiary
KUSKOT VILLAGE, ACHHAM - For the last eight years, Chandra Saud had been periodically migrating to India for work to eke out a living for his family. Not anymore. After taking a month-long organic farming training with support from the World Food Programme (WFP) in early 2011, Chandra is now busy growing different kinds of vegetables on his farm.
Dotted with vegetables like tomato, bitter gourd, lady finger, and cucumber, Chandra’s three-ropani (0.15 hectare) plot on a hilly slope stands out from the rest of the terraced field in Kuskot village, a two-hour walk from the nearest town market, in Accham district, far-western Nepal.
"Before receiving the training, I had no knowledge about organic farming. My family used to grow only the traditional crops like paddy, maize, barley and wheat and the harvest was hardly enough for three months. Now I have switched on to organic vegetable farming and it is giving me a lot of income," says the 30-year-old showing his lush green farm.
Improving Farmer's Capabilities
Chandra was among the 15 farmers, who were selected for a month-long training on organic farming from the food-insecure villages of the hilly Achham district with support from WFP's Food-For-Assets (FFA) programme that provided farmers with food assistance as an incentive for their participation in the trianing. The training was launched in partnership with two local NGOs - Development Resource Mobilisation Network (DRMN) and SEBAC Nepal.
The farmers from six villages were trained in three phases between February to April 2011 at an agricultural resource center in Tanahun district in Central Nepal. They also received field training to build their capacity as lead trainers so that they can provide training to local farmers when they return to their villages.
Agricultural experts provided theoretical and practical knowledge about organic farming such as the concept of soil management, irrigation and drainage management, seed preservation techniques, preparation of bio-fertilisers, pest control, post harvest techniques and cross-cropping.
Dan Bahadur Saund, the project coordinator from SEBAC-Nepal, said the training has been an effective tool for ensuring food security, protecting traditional knowledge of farming methods and reducing the health risks resulting from the use of agro-chemicals and fertilizers.
“Most of the farmers now know that the use of chemical fertilisers and pesticides does more harm than good and have gradually stopped using it,” says Dan Bahadur.
Supporting Nutrition and Livelihood
Within three months after the training, Chandra came back to his village and started organic vegetable farming on his land. Today, he is earning a decent amount of money by selling vegetables.
"I have already earned nearly NPR14,000 (US$165) by selling tomato, bitter gourd and cucumber. I still have vegetables worth NPR35,000 (US$412) in my farm which I am expecting to earn in the next couple of months," says the father-of-two proudly.
Chandra said the income made from selling vegetables is helping him feed his family and send his children to school.
"For years, I had been migrating to India to escape poverty. With this WFP-supported training there is no reason to go to India again. Why should I go to India when I can make a living here from organic farming?" questions cheerful Chandra.
“We could not afford eating vegetables on a daily basis as it was expensive and we didn't have the tradition of consuming vegetables. The training also gave me the knowledge about the importance of nutritious food and that eating vegetables is necessary for a healthy life," he says.
"Thanks to WFP, my life has changed for the better and I no longer need to migrate to earn a living," addsChandra, who also gives trainings on the practice of organic farming in the community these days.
The villagers, who witnessed the financial benefits of farming on Chandra's life, are now planning to replicate organic vegetable farming and are receiving training from the lead farmers.
"The farmers have realised that organic farming can be an alternative enterprise for profitable farming and is already attracting attention from local farmers," explains SEBAC-Nepal's Dan Bahadur, adding that three trainings have already been organised in six villages of Achham for around 50 local farmers by the lead trainers through WFP’s FFA programme.