In 2018, volunteers on Raleigh Nepal’s ICS programme in Ickchung built poly tunnels, goat sheds, poultry farms and delivered training to the community members related to livelihood diversification and business models. Farmers also received training on livestock, kitchen garden, organic vegetable farming, and compost manure making.
“Me and my husband were thinking of building a plastic poly tunnel before Raleigh helped us in building one. It got us highly motivated and we could see the immediate benefits. We now have 22 poly tunnels and are planning to add more seeing the benefits of the commercial farming of tomatoes.”, explained Panchu.
She continued: “We work daily. We are a full-time farmers and spent most of our time taking care of the tomatoes. If we work hard, we can do it. We need to have that dedication and hard labour.”
The income gained from selling these tomatoes is comparatively more than the other cash crops such as maize and millet. In a week we sell around 360 kilograms of tomatoes and earn around 12,000 Nepalese Rupees (approximately $100 USD). The price range for those tomatoes is 30-50 Nepalese Rupees per kilogram during normal season and 80 Nepalese Rupees per kilogram in the peak season.
Panchu described how the increased income since taking part in the ICS livelihoods programme has helped her family: “My son, Pradeep, was suffering from blood cancer and we had a hard time in managing and meeting the medical expenses incurred during his treatment. He is now healthy and studying in a college in the nearby city , Hetauda. I am happy that I did not have to take loan for Pradeep’s treatment. The income from selling these tomatoes has been a relief to me and my family. I also cultivate and sell cauliflower and vegetables from those plastic poly tunnels.”
“Before, we even had three workers to aid us with the daily chores in taking care of tomatoes and vegetables. But recently, tomatoes were infected with some disease and production was not well. For now, just me and my husband are working to take care of the tomatoes. Once the infection is treated, we will again hire those workers to assist us.
“It is difficult to manage water for irrigating the tomatoes, as the water is scarce here. If water is available easily, I will add up more tunnels. I plan to grow more off-seasonal vegetables in future. By selling these tomatoes and vegetables, I firmly believe that our life style will improve drastically.”
Seeing the work and success of Panchu and Fatte Bahadur since taking part in the ICS livelihoods programme, many of the farmers in the community have been inspired and motivated to either set up plastic poly tunnels or get engaged in other income generating activities.
Farmers from Ickchung now sell their produced vegetables and livestock to the nearest market which they report has seen their income increase significantly.