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Creating livelihood options for farmers

Som Bahadur Tamang from Dubachour VDC of Sindhupalchowk district had just started planting tomatoes in his farm during August 2015 when he was interviewed by CARE staff. Eight months after, Som is making good progress and is able to make a decent living selling his tomatoes.  

During our first visit to Som Bahadur Tamang’s farm on August 2015, his tomatoes were small saplings, but no it has grown into big plants producing big and juicy tomatoes. Som gently picks tomatoes from his farm and puts it in his bucket as he avoids squeezing it for his customers. This is the first season where his fellow villagers can eat tomatoes freshly grown in their own farm.

However, not so long ago the farmers in his village, Dubachour, used to grow rice, potatoes and millets only. For rest of the vegetables like tomatoes and chilies, they were dependent on market outside their villages. “We used to walk hours to get to the market, but we were still not able to get fresh vegetables which were free from pesticides”, informs Som.

But after receiving tunnel farming training from CARE along with seeds, plastic and bamboos to construct his farm, Som has successfully grown healthy tomatoes in his farm, which has in turn helped him with income generation.

“After the earthquake, I lost all of my chickens which were my source of income. For a while, I was worried that I would not be able to send my children to school without money,” Som shares. “But after receiving training on tunnel farming from CARE, I decided to grow tomatoes and planned on selling it. I was skeptical about it at first but within three months I was able to earn Rs. 25,000 just by selling tomatoes grown on my farm,” he says. He further adds that while poultry farming was also profitable, it required more investment in terms of medicines and vaccinating the chickens. “In this way vegetable farming is much easier and costs less,” he shares.     

Som has the last batch of tomatoes left in his farm (about 15 kilograms), which he says will be sold within a week. He informs that within three months he was able to produce 3.5 quintals of tomatoes and sell it off at a profit.

Along with tomatoes, Som now wants to experiment growing different vegetables. He has already started planting chili seeds provided by CARE and other vegetables like bell pepper. He is quite excited about the yields as some of these vegetables are very new to his fellow villagers.

“Most of the people in our village have never seen vegetables like bell peppers. I am sure they will like it once it grows in my farm,” says a hopeful Som.Som has been an inspiration to many of his friends who have gone abroad for foreign employment. Many of his compatriots now want to come back and follow his footstep.

“My friends from abroad call me sometimes and they tell me that they want to come back and stay with their families and make a living from agriculture”, says Som.

He adds, “I have found a passion for agriculture and I want to grow this initiative by leasing land from my neighbors and involve them in farming as well.”

However, Som’s journey is not devoid of challenges. Some of his crops were stolen by monkeys when he was not around in his farm. Additionally, many people like Som who have started farming after CARE came to the village with various schemes in tunnel farming trainings, have questions and they seek advice from agriculture experts.

“If there was an information center, where we could interact with experts on a regular basis then our yields will be much higher”, says Som.

He adds, “We can make this village a commercial framing hub as many people have started tunnel farming after the earthquake; however, we need support linking our agriculture produce to the markets as the supply will soon exceed demand in this village”.

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