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Increasing Women's Independence Through Commercial Vegetable Farming

Updated: May 13, 2021

In the remote village of Chamgaun in Mastamandu VDC in Dadeldhura district, before the Rural Village Water Resources Management Project interventions, the women of the village used to fetch water from traditional water resources (Naulo), more than an hour walking from their houses. Due to the contamination of water, the people in the village suffered from different waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea. They didn’t have any sources of water for irrigation and only a few seasonal vegetables were grown.

Based on the Water Use Master Plan (WUMP) priority, they were supported with a water supply scheme with two taps, one reservoir tank and one intake. The scheme was constructed in FY 2069/070 under female user’s committee (UC) management with cash support of Rs. 431,522 (Euro 3,580) from the District Water Resources Development Fund (DWRDF). The women of the village were also given intensive training in home garden management and they were encouraged start their home gardens, mainly for household consumption.

Besides saved time by not needing to fetch water from far away, the women of the village started utilising the available water effectively in multiple ways. The community was not only benefiting from safe and accessible drinking water but was also using the excess water for vegetable farming. The wastewater from the tap gave the women enough water to start small-scale vegetable farming. This encouraged them to gradually increase the volume and variety of vegetables, such as: capsicum, eggplant, lady finger, beans, chilies, bitter gourds, tomatoes, coriander etc. They also established a small nursery for cauliflower, cabbage and some other vegetable seedlings. The production of these vegetables was sufficient for household consumption and also saved some time and money by avoiding daily shopping rounds. Later on in the project, the women were supported with six polyhouses by the DWRDF. Now the women of the Chamgaun village are able to grow tomatoes on a commercial scale in these polyhouses during the rainy season in addition to their vegetable home gardens.

Mrs. Jamuna Devi Bohara is the Leader Farmer (LF) in the Chamgaun Home Garden Group. She states that before the project intervention, there was no home garden group and they produced only seasonal leafy vegetables on a small scale. Sanitation in general was poor and fetching water took a large part of the women’s productive time each day. Now the project has supported them with drinking water, sanitation and activities around the home garden. Mrs. Bohara continues to tell that she is now cultivating off-season vegetables in the polyhouse in addition to her vegetable garden on her three ropani (1,500 m2) land.

“I am cultivating tomato in the poly house and cauliflower, cabbage, beans, sweet pepper and potatoes in the open field. I am earning sixty to seventy thousand rupees by selling vegetables (around 580 €) per season. We are eating different types of vegetables which supports us in our nutrition requirement. I have three children and the money I earn from selling vegetables I use for their education and also for general household expenses. “

Now the Chamgaun women are earning cash from the encouraging home garden activities and off seasonal vegetable farming. These activities would not have been possible without the construction of the water supply scheme in their village.

She continues: “I am also the member of Sayapatri cooperative, and I save a balance amount in that cooperative. We also have a Chamgaun drinking water and sanitation user’s committee, for the sustainability of scheme; I deposit Rs. 20. (Euro 0,16) monthly for the Operation and Maintenance (O&M) of the scheme. The RVWRMP project changed our behaviours and that made our life easier.”

The women of this village now are planning to be commercial vegetable growers. Observing this transition, we can see a clear sign that the livelihood status of Chamgaun is increasing.

(This blog post was originally published as an article in SERDen 2016)

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