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Inspiring Change

Living in a rural village of Khagenkot VDC, Jajarkot district of the Mid-West region, Tasbiri BK had never imagined that one day she would be able to contribute to her family’s expenses. However, thanks to PAHAL and the training she received, she is now involved in commercial vegetable production and with the money she has earned by selling vegetables this year, she paid for her daughter’s school fees, who is in the eleventh grade.

In a family with 13 members to feed, Tasbiri’s husband was the only breadwinner. He worked as a laborer and his income was barely enough to put food on their table. Despite the hardships, Tasbiri always has a smile on her face and is friends with everyone in her village. Because of her friendship and positive outlook, all group members of the Fulbari Farmers Group voted for Tasbiri to be their representative when PAHAL needed a farmer to work with to establish a demonstration site for the new poly house technology and integrated pest management training. Her site was to be used to train other farmers on intensive vegetable farming techniques using poly house technology, as well as improved methods for managing pests.

Initially Tasbiri did not want to participate in the PAHAL activity. She had already planted corn on her field and was not convinced about growing vegetables as a business. “I did not want to throw away my corn to establish the demonstration site because everyone, including me, was skeptical about it,” she says. After nobody else agreed to take the risk, she agreed to. With a heavy heart she cleared her corn field and worked with PAHAL to construct the poly house and establish an integrated pest management learning site on her land. She could not sleep for days.

At the demonstration site, PAHAL team taught her how to construct the poly house using bamboo and plastic, as well as how to plant the vegetable seeds. With no options left, Tasbiri and her family members continued to work in the field, hoping for positive results. Days, weeks and as months passed by and the plants started to grow, larger and larger, she began to feel relieved. As she began harvesting the vegetables, one by one, people started visiting her home to purchase the vegetables. Within six months she produced 135 kgs of tomatoes from her 50 m2 land inside the poly house. 20 kgs of tomatoes were sold to the PAHAL supported Khagenkot collection center and, 115 kgs directly from her home.

Today Tasbiri is a well-known farmer in her village. “Most members of my group now regret appointing me at that time,” she smiles. Looking at her progress, four other members from her group of 20 members have replicated the poly house and started vegetable farming. To encourage other farmers to get involved in vegetable farming, the District Agriculture Development Office has provided the plastic sheets at a 25% subsidy. Many other community members still visit Tasbiri’s demonstration site to learn the practical techniques from her.

Tasbiri is also the Treasurer in her group. Even though words and letters make very little sense to her, she is still able to make quick calculations and keep track of things, although verbally. Coming from a poor and marginalized community, she wished she had opportunity to go to school. But now the knowledge she has gained from PAHAL has motivated her to do something more with her life.

“For the first time in my life I earned my own money and did not need to rely on my husband for financial support. I have told my husband that I will pay all the expenses I have made so far,” she laughs. She recalls how she had to ask her husband and family for permission for every small decision, but now she makes decisions on her own. She proudly stated, “I recently traveled to a nearby village with the money I earned. I felt empowered.”

“I want to be independent,” she adds. She plans to start a larger commercial farm, employing her three daughter-in-laws, who are restricted to working at home. “I will start a revolution in my village and this will be my first step, providing employment to women,” Tasbiri says.

To date, 14,706 farmers have benefitted from the PAHAL program for intensive vegetable production. To date PAHAL has constructed 361 poly house demonstration sites with drip irrigation technology, as well as eight integrated pest management demonstration sites across its 14 program districts.