Subash Gautam/LI-BIRD

Importance of Seeds at the Time of Crisis

Posted on: 3/23/2016

By: Bibudh Dhewaju and Subash Gautam, LI-BIRD

Parbati Nepal, a woman farmer from ward no. 7 of Phulping Danda Village Development Committee (VDC) of Sindhupalchowk, was in her home with family on 25 April 2015. Her family were stuck in their  newly built home which was destroyed completely by the earthquake; they were rescued later on. “We were in really bad condition. We were alive by luck.”, recalls Parvati gravely. They have been living in temporary hut. During the cold winter, they had to use straw on their roof against the cold. Her fields were also completely destroyed. She did not know how she could manage to cultivate crops again. 

The temporary hut, with straw on the roof that Parbati and her family are living in. Photo: Bibudh Dhewaju

LI-BIRD through the Rebuilding Family Farming (RFF) project with the support of the Development Fund Norway provided her seeds of wheat, potato, cauliflower, common bean and pea for winter season planting.  She also received Broccoli which she had not used in her field before. “It did not grow that well”, confides Ms. Nepal, smiling. Other crops have grown quite well, supporting her family’s livelihood.

Similarly, Krishna Maya Shrestha, from ward no. 9 (Balephi) of Phulping Danda VDC of Sindhupalchowk, shares that her community of 14 households were severely affected in the earthquake with their homes destroyed completely. Many people of the village have migrated to Kathmandu, but they did not want to abandon their lands there. “We would be completely stranded in Kathmandu, with nothing but a room to share”, says Krishna Maya. Though they finally decided to stay in their village, they were  worried about what to cultivate and how to cultivate next. According to her, many organizations were there to help and rescue people but they could not find any to help them in their farming. They were apprehensive about their cattle and farming situation as time passed by. Then, they had communication with LI-BIRD and received local cauliflowers, pea, potato, radish, coriander and broccoli. The communities received support and relief at the time of crisis. 

Krishna Maya happily shows the potato and radish cultivated in her field and is expecting 20-30 quintal production of potatoes from her field this season. Photo: Bibudh Dhewaju

Padam Shrestha, another farmer of the same community, Balephi of Phulping Danda VDC of Sindhupalchowk, is also happy that he received  seeds when he was in need. After the earthquake, many people including him lost homes, lives, cattle and also the seeds that they had stored. In such situation he was worried about what to cultivate and how to feed his family. Meanwhile, LI-BIRD provided them different seeds such as wheat, potato, carrot, radish, bitter gourd and pumpkin. 

Similarly, Khem Maya Shrestha, a woman farmer of the same community, is also happy about receiving crop seeds from LI-BIRD after the earthquake. She received radish seeds during mid-August and cultivated them in her fields. She liked them and thus decided to keep seeds for next year planting. She enthusiastically describes the procedure for radish seed production: “Initially preparation of the land (removal of the weed, application of the organic fertilizer and making small holes) are done one week before crop transplantation. Before transplanting radish, it’s leafy and root portion should be trimmed out. The application of light irrigation in early weeks of transplantation is done twice per day. After 30-40 days of transplantation, flowering starts. The harvesting of the siliquas can be done in the early April.” She further adds, “I have also produced onion last year and earned Rs. 2800 by selling seeds to other farmers,.” She elaborates, “If we don’t produce seeds ourselves , we will have to rely upon others.  Producing seeds at households is one of the ways to become self-reliant on seeds. ”

Many of  winter crop seeds provided by the RFF project have been growing considerably. Kheem Maya and her community are pleased with what LI-BIRD has provided them, and what they have been able to achieve at this time of need. They have cultivated and grown the crops in the beautiful terrace of the hill. 

Parbati in her field. Photo: Bibudh Dhewaju

The farmers still have a lot of plights and sorrow that are hard to heal and overcome. The trauma and shock of the earthquake are fresh in them, and are revived time and again by the constant aftershocks. Now, that the cold winter has slowly left and their farming gradually rebuilt, we can hope for them to move towards a normal livelihood. Parbati is planning to build a new house again within a year or two with the support of government reconstruction scheme. What we can learn from her and many other farmers is to never loose hope, spirit and strength, and start rebuilding wrecked lives with unity and resilience against the chaos and uncertainty of our times. 

The seed distribution in Phulping Dada has been implemented through Rebuilding Family Farming (RFF) project of LI-BIRD funded by the Development Fund/Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Norway (RFF DF MFA). Reaching out to 66,767 households in 86 VDCs of 6 districts of Nepal (Khotang, Okhaldhunga, Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Sindhupalchok and Dolakha), RFF is one programme supported by multiple development partners, Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH), Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), The Development Fund, Norway (DF) which aims to restore resilient farming systems and rebuild family farms, with improved nutrition, food security, and support means of livelihood through improved agriculture practices.