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Susmita paves her way to commercial farming

When Susmita looks at her farm outside her house, she cannot help but smile. Her dedication and tireless effort has paid off with plenty vegetables in her farm and steady income to sustain her family. The farm is filled with cucumber and bitter gourd. Looking at the farm takes her back to the days when she started learning about improved vegetable farming through PAHAL.

Six months ago, a team of PAHAL approached her to be a part of farmers group in Jogbuda VDC of Dadeldhura district. With the objective to capacitate the farmers to produce high value and nutritious vegetable crops, PAHAL facilitated to form a group called Siddanath Hariyali Taja Tarkari Samuha (Siddanath Green Fresh Vegetables Group). The group includes 25 farmers who share common interest and work collectively to meet the demands of a specific market. Since Susmita joined the group, she has participated in various trainings provided by PAHAL including crop production and management, kitchen gardening, production planning training, pest management, group management and leadership training, among others. “The training has helped me to boost my confidence, speak of my opinions and make decisions defying the societal barriers and gender discrimination,” says Susmita. She serves as a Vice- President of the group.

Along with her participation in trainings, PAHAL supported Susmita to construct a poly house and introduced her to drip irrigation technology so that water shortage do not lead to low crop production. As soon she shifted from traditional subsistence farming to PAHAL’s technology assistance approach, the barren farm started to become green.

Her heart churns with pain when she remembers her old days prior to PAHAL intervention. Despite of spending hours at the farm, the crops were hardly enough for her family, let alone save for her children’s education. Her husband was skeptic that agriculture could yield better income which resulted him to opt for other occupation. She had no choice but to wait for her husband’s income, who works in the other district. At times, Susmita even took loans at high interest rates. “The fear of not being able to pay back the loans constantly kept me awake and in pain,” she says.

Unlike previous days, Susmita enjoys spending her time in the farm as she can see her hard work paying off. The vegetables produced in the farm are enough to feed her family, sell at the market as well to distribute to her neighbors. “I now know how to use the right amount of pest and grow off season vegetables,” says Susmita. Her income has doubled the five times. “In the past few months, I sold 90 kg of bitter gourd and 70 kg of Cucumber,” she adds.

Susmita is equally overjoyed to see the non-monetary reward. “The regular consumption of micro-nutrient rich vegetables has shown remarkable effect in my father-in-law’s health who is a high blood pressure patient. Also, I am happy that my children do not consume market grown vegetables that uses heavy pest,” says Susmita. Likewise, the distribution of surplus vegetables has strengthened her bond with her neighbors for the reason they speak high about her.

The visible changes in such a short period has motivated Susmita to learn more and continue her participation in PAHAL. She plans to dig a well and install an electric motor to irrigate the land so that she can produce and sell vegetables throughout the year. “I look forward to utilize my skills learned from PAHAL to invest in commercial farming in future.”