A Farmer’s Tale of Coming Home: Sustainable Agriculture and Forest Sectors
I had the opportunity to meet with the project manager of BICAS, which stands for “Building Inclusive and Sustainable Growth capacity of CSO in Agriculture and Forest Sectors” when I was in Jumla, Nepal. They brought me around Jumla and neighbouring areas to meet with a handful of incredible people [Read part 1 here!]
I had the opportunity to walk around and speak with Nar Bahadur Rawat who is the owner of a vegetable farm. Part of his story is similar to many other men in Nepal – he left his home at a young age to find work in India. It’s a common practice for men to migrate across the board to find an opportunity to earn an income. Nepalese workers that leave Nepal and migrate overseas and usually send remittances, or money transfers, back home.
This concerning reality of migration is particularly noticeable in rural parts of the country. The implications of this flow are far-reaching, both for those who leave their home, and those who are left behind.
Nar Bahadur was someone who spent over 14 years (back and forth) finding work in India. Now he could share his story of coming home.
“No more India!” he exclaimed with an enthusiasm when I asked what he was doing before he became a vegetable farmer. With the support of the BICAS project, Nar Bahadur was able to come home and turn to a new way of living and continue to support his family.
The project is supported by the European Union and will focus on building the capacity of 45 local organisations to promote inclusive and sustainable growth and increase the income of 7,000 households from agriculture and forest-based enterprises.
After a brief introduction, he starts to walk us in a circle around his farm. “Cucumbers… tomatoes… leafy greens…” he continues to laugh and point at the different vegetables.
He continues to tell us that as a farmer he is able to produce enough for his family and to bring to the markets. Most of all he’s happy that he can spend quality time with his wife and my children six children.
“What are your dreams for the future?” I ask him, still quite charmed by his big smile and energetic gestures.
Nar Bahadur says, “Although this land is a lease I plan to save up so I can purchase this land and continue to cultivate produce. I am very happy… I am highly motivated and I want to work here. I want to be a smart farmer.”
Learning about his story was touching in many ways. For one, he was able to be reunited (permanently) with his family. The heaviness of leaving my most loved ones for over a decade is a thought that hard to endure. Nar Bahadur was also someone who was able to realise the benefits of vegetable farming and learn to use improved farming techniques through training.