Bhakta Bahadur's Brighter Future
Story from Bajhang under Sustainable Livelihoods
Bhakta Bahadur Kathayat's steps are heavy as he trudges home. It's been a long day. He left home very early, carrying a load of tomatoes to the market in the district headquarters, two hours' walk away. He's tired, but his heart is light. He's sold all his crop, and is carrying back some cloth for his wife Sarada, and new exercise books and pencils for his five children for school. In his jhola (bag) he has more than enough to meet this month's payment on his debt to the money lender, as well as other household expenses.
A year ago, this would have seemed like an impossible dream to BhaktaBahadur. He grew rice, maize and millet on his farm, but only enough to feed his family for eight months of the year. He worked as a carpenter to raise enough for the rest of the year, and was in debt for the costs of his children's education.
His prospects changed when he joined the Bhairab Nath farmers' group, initiated by UMN's partner Ekikrit Bikash Munch. As a group member, he was trained in vegetable farming, and received seeds for radish, chilli, mustard, jukeniya, garlic and tomato. Through the savings and credit facility of his group, he was able to acquire polythene pipe for irrigation, and plastic sheeting to make a "plastic tunnel", a crop shelter so that he could grow off-season vegetables as well.
The results have been really encouraging. In six months, he has sold NRP 50,000 (AUD 588) worth of vegetables, and is making good headway on repaying his loans. He smiles as the setting sun turns the fields around him to gold - the future is definitely brighter!