One of the key interventions of the MAWTW project was the development of 14 rural vegetable collection centers that provide market access and services to farmers forming commercial pockets that attract private sector service providers and investment. MAWTW had a focus on developing the capacity of women and disadvantaged groups to take leadership positions in rural collection centers and to become entrepreneurs.
Til Sari Thapa is 29 years old, from a disadvantaged ethnic group, and has completed 8th grade. She has one son, two daughters, and lives with her husband and mother-in-law in Bagaichula village in Sahajur VDC* in the hilly part of Khailali District in Nepal's far west region. Her family has access to only 0.2 hectares of agricultural land. She is a part time Community Health Volunteer through which she earns about $50 per year and she also opened a small grocery shop in her village. To increase her income, she decided to join an MAWTW farmer's group where she received training, including nursery raising, off-season vegetable production, integrated pest management (IPM), micro-irrigation, postharvest handling, and other technical elements. In the first year, she earned $150 from vegetable sales and increased her family’s vegetable consumption. She plans to nearly double her vegetable production in the next year.
Til Sari Thapa (far left front) and members of an MAWTW-formed collection center.
MAWTW formed a collection center near Til Sari's home called The Fruit, Vegetable, and Ginger Collection Center in Bagaichula Village, Sahajur-7, Khailali District. The collection center was formed by 14 farmer groups with 225 households, and 142 households (63 percent) are represented by women farmers in the collection center. Til Sari was selected by the farmer groups to be the chairperson of the Marketing and Planning Committee (MPC) that runs the collection center. The MPC has six women and three men as members. The MPC bargains with traders setting prices for members, provides members with key information (including a cropping calendar that recommends plant varieties and technologies, such as Integrated Pest Management (IPM) and micro-irrigation), and advocates for its members with a variety of stakeholders ranging from local and district government to government agencies like the Department of Agriculture as well as rural development programs.
MAWTW formed a fruit, vegetable and ginger collection center in Sahajur, Khailali.
The collection center started operating in July of 2015, and it has been growing in members and in production. The main market for the collection center is Dhangadi in the district capital of Khailali, a rapidly growing regional city. Currently, sales average about 1,400 kilograms per week and are worth about $600. Farmers have gained confidence that they can make sales at good prices through the collection center and are planning to dramatically increase their production as a result. MAWTW has also developed eight Multiple Use Water Systems (MUS) that include 175 of the households that are marketing vegetables to the collection center. The MUS are enabling farmers to increase the amount they produce and to continue production into the dry season, which is important for the profitability and sustainability of the collection center.
Til Sari has also been selected to run the vegetable weighing at the collection center (another one of the services provided to members). Weighing charges are a main source of income for running the collection center. Til Sari earns about 6,000 rupees ($60) in a high production month and 3,000 rupees ($30) in a low production month from weighing for members. She is using this income for her children's education and household expenses and is saving money, too. Til Sari represents an important role model and service provider in her community, and she feels strongly that women can play a leading role in expanding vegetable production in the collection center and in building their community.
Til Sari and the collection center earn an income from weighing for market sales.
Our next post in this series
will feature some of our leaders’ reflections on this project and will look to future directions for continuing to build on the outcomes of MAWTW.
*In Nepal a Village Development Committee (VDC) is the local political area with about 1,000 to 5,000 people, usually containing several village clusters.