SURKHET, March 11: Gumi village in eastern Surkhet was popular as 'Lahure Basti' in the past as most of the village youths were working for the Indian Army. Well-off families soon migrated to urban areas, leaving fertile land barren.
However, things are changing for good as locals have taken up commercial farming of vegetables in the barren land. Each household in the village has begun commercial farming with women as forerunners. 'Lahure Basti' has found a new identity -- 'Tarkari Basti' which translates into vegetables village.
"Earlier, entire family would depend on male folks for livelihood. Now, women themselves are capable of running a family," Nanda Kumari Budha, a member of Municipal Executive Committee of Gurbhakot Municipality, said. "Not only have local women made rapid progress in economic and social fronts, they are also running cooperatives successfully."
Lakshmi Saru of Gumi started commercial vegetables farming three years ago in three kattha of land. Now, she has expanded vegetables farming to 10 kattha. Thanks to vegetables farming, she is now able to provide good education to her children. "Until few years ago, I used to buy vegetables. Now, I am growing and selling vegetables," she added.
Lakshmi has been producing both seasonal and off-season vegetables. She is growing tomatoes in three tunnels. Lakshmi says her income is growing with every passing year.
Saru is among 1,123 women farmers who are a part of Mahila Pariwartan Sana Kisan Sahakari Sanstha -- a cooperative. The farmers are divided into 220 groups within the cooperative. Uvikala Nepali, the chairperson of the cooperative, said the main objective of the cooperative is to bring down women employment in the village to zero.
The cooperative has built plastic tunnels for 24 farmers in cooperation with the Nepalgunj office of Raising Incomes of Small and Medium Farmers Project (RISMFP). It is also helping the local farmers find markets for their produce. It has also opened vegetables collection centers to collect and send vegetables to neighboring markets.
The cooperative has received support from RISMFP, Gurbhakot Municipality and Prime Minister Agriculture Modernization Project. While RISMFP has provide Rs 2.2 million to the cooperative to procure equipment, build tunnels and set up vegetable collection centers, PM Agriculture Modernization Project has helping the cooperative in seeds production.
Maina BK, deputy mayor of Gurbhakot Municipality, said that members of the cooperative have played an exemplary role. “This shows how successful and effective women leadership can be,” a proud BK told Republica.