Diary entry 4

Morgan is back in Kathmandu now. This is his fourth diary entry from his time monitoring projects in Solukhumbu and Kavre.

Saturday 19th October

Our last monitoring task in Deusa was a visit to the Hazelnut plantation, which was planted two years ago a few kilometres north of the AFRC, at an altitude of around 2,000m. The trees are in the dormant phase of their annual cycle and making reasonably good progress. Some plants are doing better than others, there was some evidence of insect pests, including the giant hairy caterpillar we met! 

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The Hazelnut trees need to be tended as they develop, they are not yet old enough to fruit, it may be another two years. Keshab (AFRC manager) explained that, due to a lack of time, the farmer whose land the hazelnuts are on hasn’t been clearing the weeds around the tree enough. This needs to happen to ensure nutrients aren’t being diverted away from the trees. We’ll need to work out a way to support him in doing this, many hands make light work. 

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It’s Saturday morning now and I’m sat with the team at our brand new AFRC in Mandan Deupur, Kavrepalanchok. Our NGO partner, Eco Himal Nepal, have been working here for three years, mostly on education and sexual health projects. Together, last year, we secured three years of funding from Marr Munning Trust, to establish a new Agro Forestry Resource Centre here, along similar lines to Deusa AFRC. 

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In June the AFRC building was completed and we slept here last night ahead of meetings today with the new committee and a tour of the progress made so far. I’ll report on what I learn in my next entry.

Diary entry 3

Our UK co-Director, Morgan Phillips, is in Nepal to monitor our project work. Here is his third diary entry.

Thursday 17th October

The nine students and two teachers from GSIS school, trekked out of Deusa this morning after spending four nights with us. It was great to spend time with them and observe how their understanding and appreciation of life here grew over the week. 

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They have a day in Kathmandu before they head back to Hong Kong and it was really lovely to listen to their ideas on how they plan to raise funds for our work here.

Since my last entry we’ve visited Aranjit Rai and his family on their farm just below Deusa Secondary School. Aranjit told us how he’d witnessed the climate changing in Deusa over the last few decades and how it was forcing him into a process of continuous adaptation as new challenges relating to water supply and insect pests kept appearing.

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We met his son Dilli Rai too, he has recently returned from working in South Korea and over the last few months has benefited from the resources, support and advice being provided here by our partner NGOs. 

We spent the afternoon learning and playing with children from Deusa Secondary; after some initial shyness the students all started to bond through the shared language of music, dance, volleyball and football!

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On Wednesday, we trekked down to Amar Rai’s farm on the eastern side of Deusa. I’ve met Amar before, he is an innovator and one of Deusa’s ‘lead’ farmers - a role model for his neighbours. His plant nursery is extraordinary, though not without its challenges. Like many farmers here, his citrus fruits are infected with fruit fly larvae.

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This is one of the ways climate change is causing havoc for farmers. On the recommendation of the AFRC, he hangs traps in his orange trees that attract flies at night. Amar says this hasn’t solved the problem, but has made it more manageable. More farmers need this advice and these traps.

Diary entry 2

UK Co-Director, Morgan Phillips, is in Nepal at the moment monitoring our project work in Solukhumbu, Kavre and Nawalparasi. This is his second diary entry.

The students from GSIS school arrived safely here in Deusa yesterday and have settled in brilliantly.

It was a full moon last night, the one that marks the end of the Dashain festival and the last day for giving and receiving Tika. Village elder, Gulkrishna Rai, the founder chairperson of Deusa AFRC led a Tika ceremony for us all - a truly special moment.

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During the afternoon we toured the grounds of the AFRC. It is noticeably more mature compared to my last visit, Keshab Rai and Hari Kumar Kharki are concentrating on tree grafting at the moment. This involves grafting high yield varieties of fruit trees onto the roots of their local equivalents. 

Over time, as grafted trees mature, the productivity of apple, oranges and lemon trees will improve significantly. They are also taking care to choose varieties that are more resilient to the impacts of climate change. 

As part of the Prime Minister’s agricultural modernisation programme the AFRC was selected to receive a high tech polytunnel. It is possible to monitor and maintain constant temperature in the polytunnel and it has an automatic watering system. This is making it easier to grow seedlings for sale and grafting. 

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Today we trekked down to the village of Kurte, it was the first time I’d ever been there, it is beautiful. We had tea in the new community hall before a training session on biointensive tree planting, which is a fascinating process to give the tree the maximum chance to thrive.

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There is now a Macadamia tree growing in Kurte that should start fruiting in 2023. 

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After a beautiful farewell programme in Kurte and a tough climb back to the AFRC, we had dinner before Anisha from EcoHimal led a really engaging reflection session with the students. They are starting to ask deeper questions about the things they are learning and experiencing.

Monitoring visit to Nepal

UK co-Director, Morgan Phillips, is in Nepal this month. This is his first diary entry.

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I arrived in Nepal on Thursday morning after a long journey via Chengdu in China. I spent the rest of the day catching up with my Nepal co-Director, Richard at his home in Kathmandu.

Friday was spent with Narayan Dhakhal, from Eco Himal Nepal. We visited Appa Sherpa from Nuwa Coffee Estate at this office and roasting facility on the north side of Kathmandu. It was fascinating as ever to talk to Appa about the realities of growing and selling coffee in Nepal. His biggest focus right now is on improving the quality of the coffee Nepali farmers are producing so that it remains consistently high. When it doesn’t, he struggles to export green bean to buyers around the world.

He passed on some tips on how farmers in Solukhumbu can improve their processing operation and what we should do in Nawalparasi as we begin piloting coffee production there in partnership with HICODEF.

Appa also told us that he has started selling roasted coffee beans from Solukhumbu to cafe’s on the trekking route to Everest Base Camp. Trekkers can therefore now drink Solukhumbu grown coffee in Solukhumbu! We’ve organised, through Appa, to promote our film Coffee. Climate. Community in those cafes to give trekkers a chance to learn more about TGT and the coffee they’re drinking.

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Yesterday I travelled by jeep with Anisha from Eco Himal and Dinanath Bhandari, a long standing TGT volunteer, to Deusa AFRC, where we’ll be staying for the rest of the week.

This morning, we’re awaiting the arrival of students and teachers from GSIS (the German Swiss International School) who are over here from Hong Kong for their Discovery Week field trip. They are the second group to visit Deusa from GSIS. We’ve got a busy few days planned for them and hoping we might inspire a few to become the climate change adaptation professionals of the future.

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GSIS are partnered with TGT and raise money each year for our work in Solukhumbu. We’re just getting ready for their arrival, they will be getting the full welcoming treatment from the amazing team here at the AFRC!

How one man's coffee trees were saved

One of TGT’s long standing trustee’s Andy Rutherford, spent time in Nepal earlier this year and took the opportunity to visit our project work in Deusa, Solukhumbu. While he was there, he met Net Kumar Rai whose story shows just how much difference a project like ours can make. Andy tells Net’s story here:

Destroy? - Preserve - Create

In 2014 Net Kumar Rai had had enough of his coffee bushes. He had only got 100 Nepali Rupees (about 60p) for a kilo of green beans. He knew he could use his valuable terrace plots on the sides of the hills of Deusa better.

Net Kumar Rai in Deusa’s coffee belt.

Net Kumar Rai in Deusa’s coffee belt.

So he started to cut down his nearly worthless, fruiting coffee trees, with plans to use them as firewood for cooking and fodder for his buffalo.

Five hundred metres higher up the steep Himalayan hillside there was a meeting taking place in the Eco-Himal community office. Narayan Dhakal, the Eco-Himal Director, was meeting with his community agro-forestry team. He overheard a conversation in one of the local languages, Rai, and gleaned some key facts… ‘Net Kumar – coffee – destroy’

Narayan knew Net Kumar well. He was one of the inspirational ‘lead farmers’ in Deusa. Narayan was disturbed that Net Kumar, a person who was respected for what he created, was destroying. Narayan, urgently, wanted to understand what was happening and why. He interrupted the meeting and asked for more details from one of his junior staff, Jai Raj.

Jai Raj matter of factly said that Net Kumar was cutting down ALL his coffee bushes.

Narayan was distressed and summoned up his thirty adult years of walking up and down the Himalayan terraces of Nepal and sped down hill to Net Kumar’s home just below the High School and the tea shop that Net Kumar ran with his wife, Raju.

Net and Raju Kumar Rai at their home in Deusa

Net and Raju Kumar Rai at their home in Deusa

He then ran across to where he knew Net Kumar’s terraces were and was shocked to see coffee bush stumps, dotted around, jutting out of the stony soil.

Narayan could not find Net Kumar but left a simple plea for him, “Please do not cut down any more bushes.”

The plea got through to Net Kumar and, as he knew Narayan well and respected him, he paused the cutting down and a few days later they met.

Net Kumar shared that quite simply, his coffee bushes were a lot of work for very little income. There were no machines for hulling or pulping so this meant a lot of work in preparing the green beans. Then the lack of roads and transport around Deusa created terrible challenges to get the beans to a buyer. They all had to be carried in dokos (woven bamboo head carrying baskets) till the first bumpy earth roads and then downhill to potential buyers. This all took a lot of time and was expensive.

After all this, the price of 100 Nepali Rupees (about 60p) for 1kg of green beans simply meant it was not all worth it. He wanted to use his terrace plots for either more orange trees or simply fodder grass for his livestock. He was hoping to slowly build up his numbers of Murra Buffalo, famous for their milk. They had big appetites!

Narayan Dhakhal (Executive Director, Eco Himal Nepal)

Narayan Dhakhal (Executive Director, Eco Himal Nepal)

Narayan had returned from Kathmandu after trying to prepare himself to meet with Net Kumar and understand why the coffee bushes were ‘for the chop’. He had tried to get some advice. He had visited the Nepali Coffee Board but they had not been helpful. However, he had spoken with Bola Shrestha at an NGO called Helevtas and he had said that “there was something that could be done!”

Narayan shared the ideas with Net Kumar who was interested in seeing if they would work. About seventy trees had been lost but more had been preserved.

Narayan shared the story of Net Kumar’s coffee bushes with Robin Garton, founder of The Glacier Trust. Robin was a regular visitor to Deusa; it was the place where a visionary Agro-Forestry Community Centre (AFRC) was being built as a focus for support and training for Net Kumar and the other hill farmers in the communities in and around Deusa.

Plans were interrupted dramatically by the earthquake on 25th April 2015 that devastated so many communities across Nepal. Solukhumbu District, with Deusa in its South was badly affected.

However, as soon as it was possible after the earthquake, Narayan went back to Bola at Helvetas. They revived their discussions and developed a small training programme for the farmers of Solukhumbu and got timely support from The Glacier Trust and the Swiss Development Corporation.

The first training session held in Deusa was in March 2016 and in Net Kumar’s community. Nearly forty women and men gathered on the terraces near Net Kumar’s home. A humble community movement started, a coffee pulping machine was bought and based in the now built and established Deusa AFRC and other trainings followed. The commitment from the new start was to keep the coffee organic.

Net Kumar with his coffee tree.

Net Kumar with his coffee tree.

By harvest time, two more pulping machines arrived and the parchment coffee beans were bought at an initial fair price and they were carried and driven to Kathmandu where they were sold. They were not easy to sell as the commercial ‘raw’ coffee market in Nepal is quite underdeveloped. Eventually Narayan was able to bring back 247,000 Nepali Rupees (just under £1,800) which was shared amongst over 100 farmers.

Coffee could be worth it!

Now Net Kumar and the other community coffee growers, are embracing the potential income. With continued support from the Agro Forestry Resource Centre (AFRC) in Deusa and The Glacier Trust, the preserved coffee bushes are now creating new possibilities for Net Kumar and Raju and their children Aruna who is 13, Sandesh 9 and Salina who is 5. Their household is one of over a 100 households across Deusa and Waku whose lives and livelihoods are being improved.

In April I was privileged to visit Deusa and the communities around it with Narayan and together we met with Net Kumar and Raju, shared a delicious tea in their tea-shop then walked around their terraces and between their now mature and very healthy ‘preserved’ coffee bushes.

Andy Rutherford, Trustee of The Glacier Trust.


Narayan Dhakal tells some of this story in our short film ‘Coffee. Climate. Community.’ We will be selling Nepal Glacier Coffee again this winter. It will be available to pre-order soon, you never know you might get a coffee bean or two from Net Kumar’s saved trees!

Hari’s YouTube channel

Hari Kumar Kharki lives and works in Deusa, Solukhumbu, he is Eco Himal’s project manager on the TGT funded Agro-Forestry programme. Hari’s role is to support and train farmers in various agro-forestry and climate change adaptation methods across two rural municipalities, Deusa and Waku. He has been innovating in how to do this and has recently launched his own ‘Farmers School’ YouTube channel.

Hari started ‘Farmers School’ entirely under his own initiative. He uses free software to help edit his own photos and videos; they have a homespun quality about them, but perform a function, one that could become ever more valuable as the internet reaches further and further into Nepal’s remote mountain villages.

His first two videos were uploaded a year ago and focused on coffee production. He has recently started adding new content looking at how women are engaging in modern agriculture; an introduction to building and using water harvesting ponds; and most recently a tribute to the wonderful Romanesco broccoli crop.

The latest video uploaded to ‘Farmers School’ YouTube channel is an ode to the spectacular and delicious Romanesco Broccoli.

I spoke to Hari via Facebook messenger to learn more. He told me that he started making the videos because he’s aware that what he has learned and experienced since starting work in Deusa is not only interesting to him, he believes that other farmers find it interesting too. He’s especially keen to share his experiences and knowledge with other young adults who he hopes he can inspire and motivate, so that they take up agriculture rather than migrate to the cities. Key to this, in Hari’s own words, is to make the videos ‘entertaining and believable’.

Hari has a large following on Facebook and promotes his videos through his profile to friends and fellow farmers. Internet access is patchy, often slow, but not too expensive and more and more people are getting access everyday at local cafes and through their smart phones. He is hopeful that as more people get access to the internet (which they inevitably will), YouTube can become a valuable communication tool to complement his face to face work and help him do more to enable climate change adaptation in these vulnerable communities.

Hari started his Farmers School channel with a video introducing how to produce coffee parchment in Solukhumbu.

Right now, Hari is working on a video to share an ‘rice intensification system’ that he is currently trialing; a key climate change adaptation benefit of this system is that it lowers the amount of water needed to grow rice. I’ve seen some photos already and am looking forward to his video.

To learn more about our work in Solukhumbu, visit our project pages. You can subscribe to Farmers School via YouTube. If you’d like to find out more please get in touch.

Our higher education students get their hands dirty

The four students on our higher education programme in Nepal this year are well into their research in Solukhumbu. But it’s not all interviews and focus groups. A big part of getting an understanding of what life is like, how agro-forestry is done and the changes our projects enable, is to get involved in it.

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Yesterday, Rachel, Charlotte, Navin and Kanchan rolled up their sleeves and worked with staff from Deusa AFRC, our NGO partner Eco Himal and local farmers to plant a new fruit tree.

This wasn’t a normal tree-planting effort, they followed the ‘biointensive’ method. This method gives the tree the very best chance of flourishing by providing it with vital nutrients via leaves, mulch, compost, ash and wood.

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It is tough work, they have to collect all the nutrients for the tree, dig a hole that is a metre wide and deep and then work the soil back into the ground.

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Our higher education programme plays a vital role in developing the next generation of climate change adaptation professionals. If you would like to sponsor a Nepali student’s place on next year’s programme, please get in touch with our Co-Director, Dr. Morgan Phillips.

Developing the next generation of adaptation professionals

The 2019 TGT Higher Education programme is underway. This year, four students, two from Southampton University (UK) and two from Tribhuvan University (Nepal) are in Solukhumbu for three weeks to research the environmental, social and economic impacts of the agro-forestry work we have been enabling there over the last five years.

Keshab Rai (Deusa AFRC manager) explains the climate change adaptation work he is leading in Solukhumbu to Charlotte Thomas, Rachel Roberts and Kanchan Kattel.

Keshab Rai (Deusa AFRC manager) explains the climate change adaptation work he is leading in Solukhumbu to Charlotte Thomas, Rachel Roberts and Kanchan Kattel.

The students arrived at Deusa AFRC yesterday and they have already made a start on their research. Navin Bhanjade and Charlotte Thomas are investigating the local economic impact of the surge in coffee production, today they interviewed a local farmer, Yubraj Rai from Dipli, Deusa.

Navin Bhanjade interprets for Charlotte Thomas as they interview local farmer Yubraj Rai about the coffee value chain.

Navin Bhanjade interprets for Charlotte Thomas as they interview local farmer Yubraj Rai about the coffee value chain.

Rachel Roberts and Kanchan Kattel are looking at the impacts of Agroforestry and interviewed Panchalal Tamang about this experiences of the programme today.

Navin Bhangade, Kanchan Kattel and Rachel Roberts learn about the installation of polytunnels at Deusa AFRC.

Navin Bhangade, Kanchan Kattel and Rachel Roberts learn about the installation of polytunnels at Deusa AFRC.

The students have also spent time in the hamlet of Budhidanda, conducting a survey there with the people who congregate around the shops there. Tomorrow, all four students are going to trek down to Rindapu to visit a coffee plantation area and to interview Netkumar Rai.


TGT’s higher education programme is our contribution to developing the next generation of climate change adaptation professionals. We fully fund field trips for the Nepali students, UK students raise funds to cover their flights, travel and board while in Nepal.

If you would like to know more about our Higher Education programme or are interested in sponsoring what we do, please get in touch with our co-director, Dr Morgan Phillips via our contact page.

TGT’s future

Back row: Jamie Forsyth, Morgan Phillips,  Front row: Mary Peart, Andy Rutherford, Peter Osborne, Prof. Craig Hutton. 

Back row: Jamie Forsyth, Morgan Phillips,

Front row: Mary Peart, Andy Rutherford, Peter Osborne, Prof. Craig Hutton. 

TGT trustees and staff met for a full day’s strategy meeting in London yesterday. It was great to have Mary Peart, our newest trustee, with us for the first time. We covered a lot of ground:

  • Our project work in Nepal from Nawalparasi to Kavrepalanchok and Solukhumbu;

  • How to expand our Higher Education programme to enable more students to experience and study climate change adaptation in the field;

  • What we can do in Nepal, the UK and internationally to advocate for more and better Adaptation as a vital component of any response to the climate and ecological emergency.

Please keep an eye on our website and social media in the coming weeks as we develop and publish our plans.

This is such a critical moment in the history of Nepal and the world. We have to ensure that we mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change before things spiral out of all control. This is what we’re determined to do and the news of Cyclone Fani raging in India and Bangladesh is yet another reminder of the urgency and importance of our work.