Lise Bjerke

"I am independent now."


Posted on: 11/30/2013

Sabitri Adhikari used to work hard just to produce enough food for her own family. Through the support LI-BIRD gives to her local farmers' group, she is now able to produce a variety of vegetables and fruit for sale at the local market. ” I am independent now, and I don't have to bow my head in front of money lenders anymore," she says.

Sabitri lives in Jogimara village in Dhading district. Together with her husband she has a farm in the steep hills. In 2009 she became a member of a farmers' group under the umbrella of the Jogimara biodiversity conservation and development committee, a farmers' organization working on sustainable use and conservation of agricultural biodiversity.

The members of the committee manage the local committee seed bank, which gives the farmers access to and control over their local seeds. The member farmers also have the opportunity to get affordable loans, available from the trust fund of the group, commonly known as the community biodiversity management (CBM) fund.

Sabitri wished to produce vegetables for sale at the local market, and she got the support she needed from the CBM fund to buy seeds. She started producing potatoes, cauliflower and tomatoes, and today the farm also grows oranges, ginger, radish, cabbage and broad bean.

"Vegetable production is more beneficial than growing cereal crops, as we fetch a higher price at the market for vegetables", she explains. She utilizes farmyard manure from their own livestock, relying on her own household resources instead of external inputs.

The two sons of the family have both moved from the farm to find other jobs. The vegetable production is labor intensive, and Sabitri and her husband cannot manage all the work themselves. Therefore, the loan she gets from the fund is much needed, because it makes her able to pay for the labour they need.

"Life is more comfortable now. We used to do subsistence farming, and life was so difficult. We grew many crops, but in a small, small field. Now, we are growing in a much larger area, and by selling in the market we get enough money to manage for ourselves," says Sabitri.

The farmers who gets a loan from the fund is obliged to grow one of the varieties from the seed bank, as part of their conservation commitment. After the harvest, they deliver back 1.5 times as much seeds as they took out from the seed bank. In that way, the community seed bank's seed production is maintained. Sabitri is now growing a local rice variety called Jarneli from the community seed bank.

Sabitri is also the treasurer of the farmers' group, and is optimistic about the future. She believes her oldest son and her daughter-in-law will return one day to continue the work at the farm.

 

By: Lise Bjerke, Knowledge Management and Capacity Building. Lise is on Fredskorpset Exchange with LI-BIRD from Norway for 2013-14.