Farmers’ Field School in Bara

Bishnu Maya Shrestha at her vegetable farm
Bishnu Maya Shrestha at her vegetable farm. Photo: UNDP Nepal

Farmers’ Field School is a new concept in Nepalese agriculture promoted by the Multi-dimensional Resource Centre (MRC),  an NGO and a grantee supported by the UNDP Global Environment Facility-Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP).

The school promotes organic vegetable farming and provides weekly lessons to the local farmers who are its members.  The farmers are taught about production and importance of organic vegetables most importantly  the knowledge about pests, pesticides and the use bio pesticides.

Highlights

  • Since it was set up in 1996, the Nepal Small Grants Programme has funded 102 local initiatives for environmental conservation. This number includes 54 biodiversity conservation projects, 30 climate change mitigation projects and 11 projects to reverse land degradation.
  • Twelve SGP projects have led to the conservation and sustainable use of 5,143 hectares of biodiverse midhills forest and 3,483 hectares of wetlands.

The school started in January 2012 and this summer a total of 26 farmers utilized a total of 5.5 katha (1,848 square meters) of land for organic farming. 25 out of 26 farmers were women and most of them are from marginalized communities. From September onwards the school will start providing lessons on production of winter vegetables.

Bishnu Maya Shrestha became a member of the Farmers’ Field School and has become an active organic farmer already producing a variety of organic vegetables such as okra, sponge gourd and bitter gourd – initially in an area of about 100 square meters.  Within 4 months, she harvested about 70 kilos of sponge gourd, 40 kilos of bitter gourd and 30 kilos of okra. Buyers themselves come to the village to buy the vegetables, so she does not need to worry about marketing and selling them. She has sold them conveniently at the gate of her own farm which is fetching her good money. Bishnu heartily thanks the project and says, “Green revolution has started in Haraiya-6, Bara district.”

The organic farming occupation has changed her life significantly. Her husband, a migrant labourer had to return from Malaysia due to illness and there was no source of income in the family. Now, with the support of UNDP’s Global Environment Facility – Small Grants Programme, Bishnu and her family have adequate income to live a much better and easier life.  Bishnu says, “After calculating all the costs and recovery, I have saved around Rs. 4000 plus and the stock is still growing. My family now is eating healthy food as well. I am also an active member of Pratiba Agriculture Environment Conservation Group.”

Since 1998, the GEF-SGP has funded 151 local initiatives for environment conservation such as biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation, reversing land degradation, international water protection, capacity building and eliminating persistent organic pollutants etc. These projects have involved local communities and significantly contributed in the conservation of the local natural resources which has resulted in improved livelihood of the communities and environmental benefits for all.