Improving Livelihoods, Changing Lives
Posted on: 3/11/2016
By: Rishi Ram Pandey, LI-BIRD
"I had never thought that I could make my life better through this programme [Livelihood Improvement Programme]. The Livelihood Improvement Programme helped my family move out of extreme poverty". These are the words of Yam Prasad Sharma, a 41 years old farmer of Bhimapokhara VDC Ward no. 9, Dhandathar, Baglung.
Yam Prasad had received basic training on seasonal and off-seasonal vegetable cultivation in the past, but his skills and knowledge were hardly used in productive business. His small family with two children had no any reliable income source to meet daily needs. As an active man who had completed 10th grade in school, Yam Prasad was wandering around in search of a way for a secured life for his family. It was Livelihood Improvement Programme (LIP) of Multi Stakeholder Forestry Programme (MSFP) that created an opportunity for him to utilize his skills for the prosperity of his family. Social Mobilization from Federation of Community Forest Users Nepal (FECOFUN) Baglung, technical advice from LI-BIRD and financial support from (MSFP) inspired Yam Prasad and other villagers to involve in various income generating activities such as vegetable cultivation, goat raising and bee keeping.
Yam Prasad received support of NPR 15,000 at 5 percent interest rate from MSFP via Amritbuti Community Forestry User Group (CFUG) to grow vegetable in July 2015. With the amount, he constructed a tunnel (green house) at a cost of NPR 12,240 and bought seed of Srijana tomato for NPR 575. By February 2016, he managed to bag NPR 55,595 from tomato alone. With a total investment of NPR 22,150 (including his family labor), he saved NPR 33,445. Yam Prasad has kept the record of expenditure and income of his activities in detail, including labor he himself and his family have contributed.
Yam Prasad in his field. Photo: Prem Lamichhane
"I have already managed to earn the amount enough to pay back to the CFUG within seven month and expect to earn more from next season since I do not have to spend in tunnel construction any more", says Yam Prasad. He also earned additional money from intercropped(planted in between tomato plants)cabbage, cauliflower and coriander.
"I have devoted myself in tunnel cultivation.Vegetable cultivation has raised hopes for a decent living of my family", adds Yam Prasad. A cabbage weighing 4.7 kg became surprise to the villagers leading him to grab 'best performing farmer' award in local agriculture trade fair.
Mr. Sharma has recently bought a piece of land in the village for NPR 53,000 that was supplemented by the earning from
vegetable. "I was encouraged to buy a piece
of land with the earning from vegetable
cultivation. I am going to utilize that plot for the expansion of my business", says Mr. Sharma. Yam Prasad and his wife are planning to increase the number of tunnel by three next year.
Yam Prasad advises young generation not to waste their productive lives in foreign soil just for a small earning. "Changes in our lives are possible with a planned income generating activities. But we should dare to change ourselves first", says Mr. Sharma.
Cabbage and tomatos cultivated in Yam Prasad's field. Photo: Prem Lamichhane.
Until MSFP intervention, farmers hadn’t adopted commercial farming, but now the majority of them have tunnels and they sell vegetables at a large quantity. "Until very recently, local jeeps used to carry food stuffs and vegetables every evening from Baglung Bazzar, but now we send sacks of vegetables in Baglung every morning", says Ram Prasad Sharma, coordinator of Ward Citizen Forum.
Illustrating the changes observed in the village within a short period of time, BidhyaPatiGautam, Principal of local Shivalaya Lower Secondary School says that the MSFP intervention brought about many positive changes in the attitude and behavior of local women and men. The LIP has also produced co-benefits such as change in food habit, improved institutional capacity, improved social capital, diversified livelihood sources, skilled human resources, all leading to dignified life.
"What we have learned from MSFP/LI-BIRD/FECOFUN is that we should identify the activities that can give income in shortest possible time", says Dhan Maya Chhantyal, one of the LIP members of the group who has been involved in bee keeping.
There are several other farmers who have made similar achievement in the village. Farmers from surrounding hamlets also come to see Yam Parasad’s farm and inquire about the techniques.
The LIP has proved to be the source of inspiration for changing lives of poor people in the villages. Example of Yam Prasad Sharma and other members of Amritbuti CFUG show that the LIP has not only raised the earning of low income families but has equally strengthened social and human capital. This is what the LIP is meant for.
Multi Stakeholder Forestry Programme (MSFP) is a project funded by Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and UK Development for International Development (UKAID) to enhance and strengthen national, regional, and local institutional arrangements that can deliver effective forest sector development.