Maya*, a resident of Naraharinath-4, Kalikot, had been struggling to make ends meet. With a family of nine to support, including her husband, in-laws and a daughter, their main occupation is agriculture. However, their land was steep and insufficient to sustain their needs for the entire year. To cope with the financial challenge, they would have to work as labourers in neighbouring villages for six months and as migrant workers in India for another six months.

Things took a turn for the better when the INF Nepal Kalikot branch formed a self-help group (SHG) in their village and educated them about the benefits of joining the group. Maya joined the Mahadev self-help group of 21 members and started attending their regular meetings twice a month. The group discussed social issues, identified community problems, and developed action plans to solve them. They worked on constructing an irrigation canal, safe drinking water taps, pathways, and waste management.

The group meeting also focused on financial management, such as saving and credit. It encouraged community members to start businesses such as poultry farming, goat rearing, and vegetable farming. They received business-related training, materials and vegetable seeds to begin communal vegetable farming. Maya allowed the group to use her land for this purpose, cultivating vegetables and sharing the produce equally. It was a test project which was a success for the members.

After learning from communal farming, Maya wanted to cultivate off-seasonal vegetables. She requested the SHG’s support for the required items. INF Nepal provided Maya with two plastic tunnels and vegetable seeds. Maya quickly started off-seasonal vegetable farming. She cultivated tomatoes, onions, and green vegetables in the tunnel. She sold them in the nearest market of Narharinath RM, earning a net income of Rs. 12,000. Her family also benefited from eating fresh vegetables from their own kitchen garden at home, improving their health. She invested the earnings in her child’s education.

Maya’s success story is a testament to the power of self-help groups and business-related training in empowering rural communities. She expressed her gratitude to the INF Nepal Kalikot branch staff for their support in improving their lives. Her experience shows that cultivating high-value crops can help increase income and support poor and backward members of the community.

Maya from Kalikot. Photo: Nirmala Tamata

*Name changed to protect person’s identity

The story is written by Khadgalal BK, INF Nepal Kalikot’s Team Leader.