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Adopting the KISAN technology in PAHAL program

In collaboration with the USAID’s Knowledge-based Integrated Sustainable Agriculture and Nutrition (KISAN) project, PAHAL program adopted KISAN’s poly tunnel house and Drip Irrigation Technology to increase the high-value vegetable production of our beneficiaries.

Poly house is outlined by bamboo and covered by plastic. The plastic protects plants from the weather impacts, creating a greenhouse effect and reduces the temperature fluctuation. It saves crops from getting damaged. Drip Irrigation Technology involves dripping of water onto the soil at very low rate from a small plastic pipes fitted with outlets called drippers. The pipes are fitted close to the plants’ base so that the very part of soil with the roots are moist. This technology is helpful in water deficit areas for efficient use of water. The implementation of poly house and Drip-Irrigation Technology has brought the following changes in the lives of our beneficiaries.

Uttar Singh, as Lead Farmer, inspires his group members Bhagwati VDC, Darchula District

After walking for an hour on a steep high hill comes Uttar Singh Dhami’s house. Near to his house is a structure outlined by bamboo and covered with plastic, called the “poly house”. The poly house is filled with young tomato plants. “Last season, I earned enough money by selling the vegetables I grew from the poly house,” says Uttar Singh. “Now, the tomatoes will be ready to sell for our upcoming biggest festival, Dashain,” he smiles. Uttar Singh has been in the farming occupation for the past 25 years. He grew mustard green and seasonal vegetables in the way he learned from his father. He was aware the plants need constant care and nurture but it was after PAHAL’s intervention, he learned about the new techniques of vegetable farming.

Around a year back, a PAHAL team visited Bhagwati VDC of Darchula district to form farmer groups. The group formed was of 25 farmers. As Uttar Singh was active in this occupation and was a hard working person, the group members decided to make him the leader and agreed on building a demo poly house. “During that time, it was like a fair at my house. All of my neighbors and relatives had gathered to see what the poly house is and how is it constructed. The irrigation pipe was also set,” he says. “Most of my neighbors told me that I made a wrong decision. But since I was unaware of such technologies, I thought I should give it a try,” he adds.

With the support and supervision of PAHAL team, Uttar Singh planted bottle gourd and bitter gourd in the constructed house. Five months of endless effort resulted into enough vegetables that he decided to sell to the other people. But the lack of road and access to market was a constraint for him. “It takes an hour to reach to the road and there is no huge market nearby to sell those vegetables. I had to wait all day in the road to sell it,” he says. As Uttar Singh was juggling with the market along with enjoying the vegetables, the monsoon wind followed by hailstorm ruined his poly house. “I was heartbroken when the heavy wind blew the plastic and the hailstorm ruined the plants. But I had to repair it anyways.” He purchased the new sheet and repaired the house by himself. “Since, the plants in the poly house grew better, I decided to continue working on it,” he says.

Despite of the continuous upheaval, Uttar Singh is optimistic and looking forward to participate more in PAHAL’s activities. He has participated in a number of trainings including pest management, financial literacy training, market management, disaster management, etc. “It has been a learning process. After PAHAL’s approach, I have learned so many things that I would have never known otherwise. I know with time, I will be able to find solutions to those problems as well.”

Looking at his perseverance and hard work, four members of their farmers group have decided to replicate similar poly house and adapt the irrigation technology. The team members are planning to take a loan and purchase seeds and materials for the house.

While Uttar Singh inspires his group members to initiate a step, he continues to strive for his goal. “I want my vegetables to gain the market of nearby villages and beyond.”

Technology adoption improved Dhan Bahadur’s life

  More than half of the population in Manakot VDC of Bajura district rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. They use traditional agriculture methods with low production sufficient for only half the year. The insufficiency of the production compelled one of the villagers, Dhan Bahadur Rokaya, to migrate to India for off-farm job.

With 10 family members to feed, it was impossible for Dhan Bahadur to rely on traditional agriculture production method. Due to use of poor technology, lack of access to improved variety, irrigation and dependence on cereal crop, it was never enough for him to sustain his family members. While searching for ways to find the alternative solution, PAHAL program approached in his life.

Dhan Bahadur was selected as one of the members of a farmer group formed under the PAHAL initiative. . PAHAL introduced the group to grow improved variety of vegetables. The villagers were skeptical at the time to adopt new technology while Dhan Bahadur decided to give it a try in the hope of providing better support to his family. Under PAHAL supervision, he adopted poly house for vegetable crop production with drip irrigation technology. After receiving support like silpaulin sheet and a drip set, he happily spent on construction materials like bamboo. Furthermore, the trainings he received from PAHAL helped him to implement the technology. He attended several trainings like kitchen garden management, vegetable crop production and production planning of vegetable crops. PAHAL also established a 12X4.5 m2 poly house demonstration near to his house to plant cucumber laying out the irrigation set. To his surprise, the cucumbers were not only enough to feed his family but also to sell to the local hotels and vegetable shops extending to nearby villagers. “In two months, I earned Rs. 20,000 selling cucumbers,” says Dhan Bahadur. “I cannot express how happy I am,” he adds, with wide smile. After seeing Dhan Bahadur’s progress, many other villagers including the one who were skeptical have started adopting the technology. It was not Dhan Bahadur’s effort alone. His family also contributed much in cultivating the seeds. They watered the plants and put fertilizers and nutrients regularly. Apart from the cucumbers, Dhan Bahadur planted bitter gourd, lady fingers and other vegetables in his garden.

“We had hard time even paying for children’s stationary items for school. Now it has become easy to manage our daily expenses,” says Dhan Bahadur’s wife.

Dhan Bahadur has decided to stay back and enjoy his hard work getting support through steady income. “I am glad that my husband will not leave me alone to work in India. Now, we will work together for commercial vegetable farming”, adds his wife.

Together, they have planned to save half of the income for their children’s education and invest the other to buy food grains that will keep them secure for the entire year.

Couple Farmer Setting Example in the Group

Even after decades of farming practice, Janaki wants to improve her knowledge and skills on agriculture. Her inquisitive nature has led her to participate in programs conducted by various organizations. When PAHAL approached the Nawadurga VDC of Dadeldhura district to reform the existing farmer’s group named ‘Bhumiraj Farmer’s Group’, she happily joined in.

With the technical support from PAHAL team, Janaki and her husband, Tek Raj Bhatta, constructed 12X3m of low tunnel poly house and cultivated off season vegetables including cucumber and bitter gourd in their land. The house was used as a demonstration site where the group members learned about the tunnel construction method, techniques to plant off-season vegetables and set the drip irrigation technology.

The tunnel house and the irrigation technology, adopted by PAHAL from KISAN project, has proved to be beneficial for the farmers like Janaki and Tek. Following the adoption of these technologies, the couple harvested 350 kg of cucumber and 150 kg of bitter gourd in their 0.1 hectar of land. “We saved NRs. 50,000 last year even after spending on our household needs,” says Tek. They have also cultivated cabbage, egg-plant and lady finger in their farm. “After learning about crop calendar, production and harvesting time of different vegetables along with its marketing method, we are able to yield more vegetables which has directly led to more income,” he adds. Apart from the income, the regular consumption of these vegetables have improved the family’s health. “As these vegetables are harvested without using any chemical pest, I can see my children in good health,” says Janaki. The couple have motivated other seven group members to construct similar tunnel house and cultivate off-season vegetables. It has enhanced the bond among community members too. “In previous years, we had hard time saving our vegetables from stealing. Now we do not have that problem,” Janaki smiles.

Janaki and Tek have set an example in their locality and have proved that when one has knowledge and skills that is added with dedication, success is inevitable. They are looking forward to participating more in PAHAL’s activities and have decided to expand their commercial farming at a larger scale. .