In partnership with HICODEF, TGT has been enabling climate change adaptation in the district of Deurali, Nawalparasi for more than three years.
Deurali is in the foothills of the Himalayas and only a few miles north of the vast Terai plain that sweeps from east to west across southern Nepal. Hillside villages here are remote and cut off from local towns for large parts of the year as monsoon rains damage road infrastructure and swell rivers. Climate Change is exacerbating the remoteness and precariousness of life here. Rainfall is less predictable, drought periods are extending, average daily temperatures are on the rise and insect pests are migrating to higher altitudes.
The projects we are enabling have allowed farmers to adapt, improving lives and, in some cases, have stemmed the flow of out-migration by desperate farmers who seek work in the cities or overseas.
HICODEF’s Project Manager, supported by a Local Resource Person and nine Apprentice agricultural advisors (embedded in the community) delivered the project work in three villages across Deurali.
This team led climate change workshops, a regular series of Farmer Field Schools and supported the development of market linkages in nearby towns. All three communities have improved their resilience in the face of climate change, specifically over the 12-month period, the project has achieved the following key results:
Broom grass plantations
To help limit the damage caused by landslides during the more intense monsoon seasons Nepal is experiencing due to Climate Change, a programme of ‘broom grass’ planting has been rolled out, covering approximately 30 hectares of sloping land. As well as its slope stabilising benefits, broom grass has numerous other uses for farmers. Most notably it can be used as fodder for livestock and made into brooms for domestic use and sale. Across the three project sites, 136 out of 196 households have planted Broom Grass. In total, across the whole project area, over 800 KG of broom grass was sold in the last year, generating an income of 45,360 Nepali Rupees (approx. £300).
Farmer Field Schools
Farmer Field Schools are a core activity of the ECCLA project. Learning is non-formal and involves groups of farmers coming together on a monthly basis to learn from expert agricultural technicians and each other. Each village has a demo plot that becomes a hub for the workshops. Across the three villages 93 farmers attended the farmer field schools on a regular basis (49 females, 44 males). A total of 36 sessions were run in 2017/18. As well as practical learning on organic and resilient agriculture, HICODEF’s project officers also supported farmers to organise into more formal groups. During this year farmer field school participants created four farmers groups and registered with the local government to receive a legal identity that will enable them to access government support for scaling up vegetable farming. Through the farmer field schools, participants also learned how to use organic insect pest control and pesticides, how to construct water harvesting ponds, how to conserve seeds and how to grow a wide range of vegetable crops.
Marketing is the biggest challenge for the farmers. There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, the individual farmers' production is very low so they cannot sell directly to big traders; secondly, transportation is difficult as they are in very remote areas, served only by a very rough road - traders do not come to these villages to collect produce; thirdly, there are no institutions to support the farmers.
As part of the ECCLA project HICODEF organised and ran a marketing coordination workshop to enable the farmers to organise themselves into groups who could more effectively trade through a local co-operative group. By establishing this market mechanism, farmers can sell their produce more efficiently and at a higher price by cutting out middle men. Selling through a co-operative also saves time, allowing the farmers to spend more time farming and growing. Productivity has increased significantly across all project areas since the project work began. The 93 farmers involved in the farmer field schools grew a total of 55,773 KG of vegetables. 65% of this produce was consumed by the farmers and their families, significantly improving health and nutrition. 35% of produce was sold in local markets, bringing a total income of 660,000 Nepali Rupee (approx. £4,290) to the community, improving livelihoods.
Irrigation System monitoring and management
A new irrigation system providing water for drinking and agriculture was installed in March 2017 in Durlunga Baseni, the highest village in the project area. The water has a had a transformative effect on the agricultural productivity of the farmers involved in the ECCLA project. In 2017/18, HICODEF project officers have worked closely with the community to establish effective and efficient management of the new system. The community monitor and maintain the entirety of the system and have institutionalised the collection of maintenance funds via a new management committee. Work has also begun on the extension of the water system to serve more land. Construction of a second collection tank has commenced and funds are in place to complete the system extension.
Progress has been excellent in Deurali, families here are benefiting from improved diets, increased incomes and are increasingly resilient to climate change. Knock on benefits include increased involvement by women in local planning and decision making; and more opportunities for children to attend school as parents have more capacity to fund tuition and boarding fees. As links to local markets and co-operative groups continue to formalise, the potential for commercial farming with a broader range of crops increases. TGT will continue to support the ECCLA project and we are soon to visit potential new project sites to replicate the model in neighbouring villages.