“Good morning and Organic Namaste”
This was a new method of greeting that our team learned after coming back from a fun filled 4 days trip to Kaski District in Western Nepal.
In addition to being a popular tourist destination, the surrounding villages of Pokhara are also abuzz with rural entrepreneurship. We went on a 4 day visit to some organizations from which we could learn and get new ideas for our agriculture program. In particular, we were hoping to learn from successful local agri-business leaders and to get their input on how to link the farmers we support with robust markets for their products. It was also a chance for team building and bonding.
Our team of 16 including Kathmandu and field staffs had a busy time learning, seeing, and interacting with notable individuals and groups. Our team went to the village of Bhadaure Tamagi on the first day experiencing how a rural homestay is run. We also met with the farmer’s group there, and also learned about how these groups came together to form a Cooperative for giving an organizational shape to their collective effort.
We also met with local entrepreneurs from the Bazaar who are promoting organic products in Pokhara. The Bazaar team works with the community of Bhadaure Tamagi in promoting organic agribusiness, and have been instrumental in starting a large organic produce market in the city.
The Bazaar’s organic fresh vegetable outlet in Pokhara
Visiting the organic farm of Suryanath Adhikari who is at the forefront of organic and local seed protection movement in Nepal was a very eye opening experience for all of us. Suryanath is one of the first organic farmers in the country, and one of the very first to commercially produce coffee.
Overall, our team came away inspired and with a number of tangible new ideas to improve our work in the field. This includes a renewed focus on helping farmers work together to collectively plant and harvest crops – thus gaining access to more distant markets. We are also going to renew our focus on improving compost and manure management as a foundation of our approach, and will focus upon open-pollinated seed varieties that will give farmers the option of saving seeds and even earning extra income through seed cultivation and sales. Going very official, these are the main things that our team says they have learned and will be working on to develop in our own field areas:
- coordination of our existing farmer’s group with related Government agencies
- bring all the existing farmer’s group into one common umbrella network for sharing, and marketing
- study the local and regional market to inform farmers about plants that are more profitable
- focus more on improving farm yard manure, and organic fertilizer situation in our field area
- promote local food, and preserve local seeds
Then, of course, everyone took a few days off and enjoyed ourselves as tourists.
Energetic as our teams are, they even made time to visit the revered “Manakamana” temple en route to Kathmandu which is believed to grant any wish that you make.
We will be wishing to implement some of the things that we learned from this wonderful trip, and hold onto the spirit that we developed after seeing so many successful agriculture enterprises. We believe that we are already onto the right track, all we need is a little more perseverance. Here is a video that explains partly what we are doing in the remote communities of East Nepal