In her lush paddy fields, Parvati Chaudhary is self-sufficient. A woman from rural Kailali who once used to shy away from introducing herself is now tending a 1.25 acre farm and supporting her family of five. But it wasn’t that easy getting there.
As a country trying to break away from abject poverty, agriculture has been Nepal’s chief source of income for centuries. But with traditional methods, productivity is still meagre when compared to the numbers engaged in agriculture. Positioned at the bottom of this food chain are women farmers like Parvati who suffer twice as much by having to manage their households as well as having to face an unsupportive family.
THE BEGINNING OF HOPE
Such was the situation for Parvati when she first began taking part in the trainings organised by World Vision in her community. Parvati learnt how to preserve and produce hybrid seeds domestically, sustain the life of her plants by staking them, use fertilisers, learn the basics of market dynamics and record the data of her supplies and income. As she started putting it into practice, her production picked up pace; what was slow was getting the nod of approval from her family members especially her husband who thought she was wasting her time.
POWER TO THE PRODUCER
After attending the market literacy class, she was determined to do her part to approach the local market. With the assistance from local facilitators and fellow farmers, she met market agents and discussed the process. She had to transport the vegetables to the market either on a cart or with a bicycle. With time, a sense of trust has been built between Parvati and the agents. At present, the sellers come to take produce from her. “Following the increase in demand, I have been regularly supplying the vegetables to 12 market agents this year. I am a producer and it thrills me to know that I am valued,” she beams.
SAVING UP BIG
It was only after she managed to save around NRs 3 lakhs (equivalent to $3,000) last year that she noticed her family’s attitude was changing. “My husband started giving me a hand in my market dealings and told me to carry on with my good work; I couldn’t be happier,” she recalls. In fact, she was earning more than what her husband was from his hardware shop. “It has been easier lately to manage the household expenses now that we both are contributing,” shares Parvati.
PAVITRA’S NEIGHBOUR SHANTI
Living next door to Parvati, Shanti Chaudhary has a similar tale to tell. Initially, her family was sceptical about her endeavour as they thought they were doing okay without it. But with Shanti’s increasing strides towards commercial farming, she has been able to educate herself and her family about being more productive. That combined with her regular supply to the market and the doubling of their income has helped her family to accept why she chose to go commercial in the first place. With her savings she is now hoping to build a better house to replace their existing mud mortar structure.
INFLUENCING OTHERS TO STRIVE TO DO BETTER
In a closed community like Parvati’s, there is nothing that goes unnoticed; especially an instant success. Influenced by seeing the progress in Pavitra’s life in the past two years, several others from her community, especially women, have been motivated to follow her. “Four-five people started extensive farming after I did. Time and again they come to me asking for tips,” shares Parvati.
Parvati has no doubts that she made the right choice. She looks forward to expanding the farm to 2.08 acres shortly. “I hope to own a huge vegetable farm here one day,” onlooks Parvati.
In Nepal, for every 7 men involved in economic activities, only 5 women are similarly engaged, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics 2009 findings. World Vision hopes to contribute to the raising of this statistic by empowering rural women like Parvati and Shanti to become a part of their local market chain and provide better for their families.