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Farmers in Gandaki sees financial and social securities in livestock farming

Farmers in Gandaki sees financial and social securities in livestock farming
“I feel that my struggling days are behind me now,” Durga BK , a farmer from Deurali village of Rupa Rural Municipality-5, Kaski, told a village gathering recently. Not long ago, BK got into livestock farming and she seems quite hopeful for it to come. She has almost two dozen goats now. Her days pass tending these goats. BK is hopeful that she can easily earn Rs 500,000 by selling the goats. “There was a time when I used to wander around looking for a job. But nobody would employ me because I lacked skills,” says BK. “But now I feel that I can do something on my own.”

Chitra Kumari Gurung, another villager, shared a similar story. Her husband’s income was not enough to raise the family including their children and elderly in-laws. She says her life transformed after local women got her into collective farming. These days she keeps herself busy taking care of her livestock. “The days of adversities ended for me after I got into livestock farming,” she told the meeting.

BK and Gurung are among the cohort of women who have turned their lives around after getting into livestock farming through government grants and support. Until a few years ago, most of these women were jobless. Their daily lives revolved around household chores like cooking and raising children. “I almost went into depression because I had no income of my own and I had gotten into the habit of  overthinking everything,” said Goma Gurung. “The farming project has saved my life and many other women in this village.” Kho Maya Gurung, chairperson of Annapurna Livestock Agricultural Group, said they had to hire a professional to write a proposal for a grant. “We had no idea about proposal writing, so we hired a professional to help us with the proposal that we sent to the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock,” she said. “The group members collaborate with one another and everything we have achieved so far is a result of teamwork.” There are several such farmers’ groups in Gandaki province, which have achieved success in livestock agriculture after participating in the grant program of Nepal Livestock Sector Innovation Project, supported by the World Bank and the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock. The project has been distributing grants for individual and group farmers. “This program has helped those farmers who wanted to do something innovative, but had been stopped due to the lack of funds,” said Sushil Khadka, agriculture expert of the project. Arjun Prasad Banjara, chairperson of Chakra Devi Agriculture Group from Pokhara-31, said they were thankful to the project for supporting them with funds and for boosting their confidence. Through collaboration with Aama Milan Cooperatives, the group is running a collective cow farm. Together, they raise almost 50 cows and make their earnings by selling milk and other dairy products. “I decided to continue to domesticate cows at my home after coming into contact with this farming group,” Shovakhar Subedi , a farmer from Begnas Taal area, said. “The group has helped me find a market and earn money.” Farmers associated with these groups said the project has opened many opportunities for them. Apshara Shrestha, secretary of Annapurna Livestock Agriculture Group, said these days their local governments ask the group to take responsibility for agriculture-related tasks. Dhan Bahadur Baruwal of Annapurna Rural Municipality of Myagdi said his livestock business was largely unproductive for almost a decade until his son Narayan, who had just returned home from foreign employment, suggested he ask governmental and non-governmental bodies for grants. “We were finally linked to the Nepal Livestock Sector Innovation Project of the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, which supported us to run a goat farm,” he said. Today, the father-son duo have 120 goats. Around 500 livestock farms in different parts of the country are being run with grants from Nepal Livestock Sector Innovation Project. In Gandaki province alone, there are 55 group and 60 individual farmers who are being supported by the project.