Travelling Seminar: Bhagwanpur Rural Municipality and Dhangadhimai Municipality, Siraha District

    1. Background

In order to  deal with the negative impact caused by climate change,, LI-BIRD has been implementing CARE Nepal funded Samarthya project  in Siraha, Udayapur and Okhaldhunga district through its strategic partners National Farmer group Federation (NFGF) and National Land Right Forum (NLRF). This project aims at developing and scaling up/out climate resilient models where LI-BIRD provides technical support to two strategic partners for implementing these models in the field level. In the course of model development, Samarthya project has already developed eight different climate resilient models and they have also been implementing in the communities level in both districts. Using experts to improve and finalize the models, these models drafted by Samarthya project team are in the process of documentation.  As the project is intended to scale up/out the models, that have been developed and tested in two districts, engagement of local and provincial and governments in demonstration sites might have a positive role in scaling models across the province. With this background, one day travelling seminar was organized by LI-BIRD, in collaboration with NFGF, with the aim of engaging local and provincial governments in the model implemented area in order to enhance awareness, knowledge and capacity of decision makers and make them know about the climate smart village model (Bihibare ward 14, Dhangadhimai Municipality) and leasehold Farming model (Ward 1, Bhagwanpur Rural Municipality),. At Bhagwanpur, currently, leasehold farming is being practiced by three groups in wards 1, 3 and 5, where a large plot of land has been taken as lease and cultivating different seasonal vegetables and cereals crops. Similarly, a Climate Smart Village (CSV) model has been implemented at Bihibare of Dhangadhimai Municipality Ward number 14. This field visit has provided the opportunity to meet the communities with concerned stakeholders including Land Management, Agriculture and Cooperative Minister, Mayor/chief of respective municipality/rural municipality and other experts where communities could freely present their issues and problems to the stakeholders. At the same time, concerned stakeholder also committed to scale up the technologies and practices promoted in the model demonstration sites. Overall, this travelling seminar could help to scale up/out the climate resilient models in respective municipalities and Province 1 and 2.

  1. Objectives

The main objective of the travelling seminar was to get the local and provincial stakeholders know about the models; Climate Smart Village (CSV) Model and Leasehold farming model so that they can replicate these models in their respective Palikas and province by incorporating them in their plans and policies. The specific objectives included the following:

  • Introduce the Climate Smart Village (CSV) by showcasing climate smart agricultural technologies and practices that are tested and adapted by farmers in home garden for their learning and replication in other part of Province 2 and beyond.
  • Introduce Socio-economic changes brought by leasehold farming in the life of Musahar communities at Bhagwanpur rural municipality.
  1. Methodology

One day travelling seminar was organized in presence of concerned stakeholders in the Samarthya project area in Siraha district particularly in each model demonstration site at Bhagwanpur rural municipality and Dhangadhimai municipality. Over all, a total of 54 participants participated in the travelling seminar.

The travelling seminar was conducted with three separate sessions. In the first opening and orientation session, all participants were welcomed by Bharat Bhandari, programme development director of LI-BIRD, followed by highlighting the objectives of the travelling seminar. Overview of the Samarthya project and the relevance of leasehold farming model was presented by Mr. Kedar Koirala, programme coordinator of NFGF, followed by the climate smart village (CSV) model presented by Mr. Sagar GC, team leader from LI-BIRD. The second session, field observation and interaction with local communities, started right after the lunch.  As the two demonstration sites were selected at Bihibare of Dhangadhimai Municipality and Musahar Basti of Bhagwanpur Rural municipality for the field observation,  all the participants were divided in two groups, leading by MoLMAC Minister, Sailendra Prasad Shah, at Bihibare of Dhangadhimail and by Dr. Govinda Prasad Sharma, secretary of MoLMAC, at Musahar Tole of Bhagwanpur rural municipality. Beneficiaries were very happy welcoming the Minister and the decision makers at their village. At Bihibare of Dhangadhimai, the stakeholders observed the CSV model integrating home garden water harvesting tank, checkdams/spurs, mushroom farming, Bio-fertilizers and Bio-pesticides, etc. During the field visit, Minister, Hon. Shah, has committed at Bihibare for supporting Boer goat to the group to establish goat farm.

It was very difficult for us cultivating vegetables in large amount before the Municipality introduced us with LI-BIRD. Now with the support from Municipality and LI-BIRD, we are now able to produce seasonal vegetables in our own land so that we can eat fresh vegetables and sell some amount. Now we have learnt   about Bio-fertilizers, Mushroom cultivation, grey water collection, compost preparation and growing vegetables in a home garden.

– Ghamand Kumari Shahi

Similarly, at Muhasar Basti of Bhagwanpur, concerned stakeholders observed the leasehold farming being practiced by the marginalized communities interacted with them. It was apparent that Musahar communities, whose main identity was to be engaged as labor in others’ field, have started farming in their own and could change progress in their life. . During interaction with Musahar communities, chief of AKC and secretary of MoLMAC, Province 2 have shared the possible programmes from AKC and province government to the marginalized and disadvantaged communities. The third and final session of the seminar was reflection and closing session after the field visit which is detailed below:

Reflection and closing session

Immediately after the field visit, observation of the field was reflected where eight speakers provided their speech with comments and suggestion. Words from few of them are documented below:

Chandeshwor Sada, Section officer – Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forest and Environment (Bhagwanpur Site) 

It is very positive that every person in the village are so aware of e cleanliness and sanitation; brushing their teeth regularly, using toilets, and cutting nails etc. I didn’t find any person drinking alcohol during the visit which is very common in Musahar communities at other places. This is in fact a huge social change. Though 2 kattha of land is a small support to the communities, changes happened in the life of people through this programme is great achievement. In addition to this, insect repellent trees like neem should be planted one tree in every 0.25 hectare and more land should be allocated for climate resilient leasehold farming.

Chief – Agriculture Knowledge Centre, Siraha (Bhagwanpur site)

I had visited many places having Musahar communities, but this particular community is totally different than other ones in every aspect of development. Just to highlight the positive thing, people are engaged in production which is a very good to know; 200 kg per kattha of rice production and earning NRs 18000 per year is a huge achievement for the community like Musahar. It is nice to see that they have good houses, toilets and proper sanitation around the village; people are known about the nutrition and early marriage. I found their empowerment to speak in front of a big mass. He also reflected that donor organizations and local government should support more on leasehold farming.

Durga Kumar Thapa – Mayor, Belaka Municipality (Dhangadhimai site) 

It’s a great pleasure to know that LI-BIRD is working with four groups, having more women participation, in such a remote area. The climate smart village (CSV) model going to be developed at Bihibare can be a learning place for other where visitors can come and learn a concept of home garden, grey water collection pond, Nutrient smart technologies like Amrutjal, Jholmal 1, Jholmal 2 and Jolmal 3. This is a complete package for the organic production and can become an alternative option for chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Frequent visit of Mayor and ward chairperson from Dhangadhimai municipality ward 14 is a kind of encouragement for the farmers to be involved in farming. This place has a huge potential of establishing a picnic spot where the visitors can consume the vegetables produced in the home garden. Farmers also need to be linked with the markets and should be taught on various other alternatives uses of surplus produce from their home garden like post-harvest preservation, preparing pickles, gundruk etc. 

Hari Narayan Chaudhary – Mayor, Dhangadhimai municipality (Dhangadhimai site)

Changes seen in the village is much appreciable. While working beneficiaries should always be motivated and encouraged. They should not be made dependent. Project do not remain always and after depart of the project same kind of support may not be provided to them and they will be expecting more at that time. Such an environment should be maintained that within a project period people become independent and can continue the learning from the project sustainably.

Honorable Sailendra Prasad Shah – Ministry of Land Management, agriculture and Cooperative, Province 2 (Dhangadhimai site)

We always have an aim to increase agriculture production and are working for that. The government is working to improve agriculture for years and is still struggling, but here you have done more than expected in a short span of time which is much appreciable. We have felt that there is a lack of coordination between three tiers of government with regard to solving the farmers’ issues. I had an opportunity to visit Bhagwanpur before, but  this place Bihibare of Dhangadhimai was totally new to me. By visiting Bihibare, I noticed that this place  is potential for livestock, Bee keeping, Goat rearing, Soijan cultivation and vegetable cultivation using drip irrigation. If people are interested, provincial government can support them for drip irrigation and Soijan cultivation. Marketing of the agriculture production from this area seems quite difficult, however, this should be addressed by linking the communities/groups with the market. Just to highlight the role of provincial government, MoLMAC, Province 2 is now working on drafting and endorsing the agriculture and land use policies which is, for sure, going to address the problems of poor and marginalized farmer. Similarly, under land use policy, concept of land bank will be adopted and land will be categorized as Industrial land and Agricultural Land. Irrigation and fertilizer support are always in the priority of provincial government. 

  1. Conclusion

The event was successfully organized to achieve its well defined objectives. Through the travelling seminar, participants, the concerned stakeholders from provincial and local governments, became familiar with the climate smart village model established at Bihibare and the leasehold farming model established at Bhagwanpur. More importantly, participants were highly impressed with the social and economic changes occurred in the life of Mushar communities through leasehold farming. Furthermore, Minister of MoLMAC, Province 2 and other stakeholders have committed to support for the communities.