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Commercial Farming Successes Break Poverty Cycle in Nepal

by Portal Web Editor last modified Apr 25, 2014 02:31 PM
Contributors: Basnyet, Stuti
Thanks to two consecutive USAID projects in Nepal over the past seven years—Education for Income Generation (EIG) and the Nepal Economic Agriculture and Trade (NEAT) project—more people are breaking out of the cycle of poverty to create better futures for their families.

Original Source

It’s a little past 8 on an April morning in Nepal’s Bardiya district in the midwestern plains. The sun is making its way upward in the clear, open sky and the day is warming. In the middle of a neat farm plot dotted with green plants less than 10 minutes off the main highway, Ram Prasad Chaudhary, 45, moves with a sense of oneness with his hand-woven basket filled with fresh green chilis, the crop that has transformed his life.

Chaudhary has been known as a model farmer in the Maina Pokhari village for the past five years. Before that, however, he suffered a past all too common among Nepal’s smallholder subsistence farmers. As a member of the Tharu ethnic group, a traditionally marginalized community that is predominantly based in Nepal’s fertile flatlands close to the Indian border, Chaudhary faced deep-rooted societal barriers to pulling himself out of poverty. Despite owning 3.2 acres of land, his life had been filled with uncertainty about something as basic as feeding his family.

In Nepal, over three quarters of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. Around a quarter live in extreme poverty and two out of three people are considered food insecure.

“I used to work as a daily-wage mason because the farm just never produced enough. But even a whole day’s labor paid very little, and often irregularly,” Chaudhary explained. “It was a life of hard choices, of having to frequently choose between health care for my family or my son’s education fees.”

That was until Chaudhary was approached by USAID five years ago. With support, he was able to add one more acre to his farm, which allowed him to produce two harvests a year of high-value, off-season vegetables—earning $2,350 annually, more than tripling his income. “I like to grow potatoes, chilies and cauliflower because that’s what the market likes,” he said with a smile.

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