Project #12849

Sustainable Agriculture in Nepal

by Educate the Children
Mankumari Thami, successful farmer!
Mankumari Thami, successful farmer!

On behalf of ETC staff and program participants, THANK YOU for supporting our Sustainable Agriculture in Nepal project! We have reached our goal of raising $7,000 to support training and resources for farmers in the Dolakha District of east central Nepal. 

Below are but a few of the accomplishments from the past several months:

  • All members of ETC women's groups (more than 840 women!) are maintaining kitchen gardens, and some are maintaining larger-scale farming operations, to feed their families better and earn more money - which in turn allows parents to send all of their children to school, instead of needing to keep some of them home due to inability to pay for books, uniforms, and fees.
  • ETC hosted a plant clinic in conjunction with the District Agriculture Development Office (regional government entity). Participants in this event included 159 farmers, who learned about soil health maintenance and pest control. The farmers brought samples of 514 pest-damaged plants (364 vegetable and spice plants, 107 fruit plants/trees, and 43 cereal crops), which were inspected by trained agricultural specialists, and effective, eco-friendly plant protection measures were discussed.
  • A total of 50 women farmers participated in two training events to learn about, and receive resources to build/improve, goat housing. Goats are very popular livestock animals in Nepal: during the past few years, ETC women's group members have taken out 201 loans from their peer-managed microcredit funds to start or expand goat-farming enterprises.
  • ETC staff distributed high-quality vegetable seeds to all women's group members and the three Agriculture in Schools clubs (total membership: 60 students, ages 10-14).

All in all, we have achieved our stated goal of enabling women farmers to produce greater quantities of nutritious food for themselves and for literally thousands of their family members and neighbors. Some women, like Mankumari Thami (see attached photo), do exceptionally well: During our last program year, she raised nearly $800 worth of crops. Compare that with the national average household income, which is about $500 annually and is generally much lower than that in rural areas, and you can see that she has been very successful indeed.

Again, we thank you very much for your support, which has made all of this possible. Please click here or on the link below to visit our other GlobalGiving project!

ETC staff member visiting a farmer in her garden
ETC staff member visiting a farmer in her garden
Plant clinic for pest control assessment
Plant clinic for pest control assessment


Students at their school
Students at their school's vegetable garden

Dear Friend of ETC,

Spring is just ahead! But meanwhile in Nepal, the important work of ensuring that families can grow more nutritious food continues year-round.

Although Nepal's economy is heavily based on agricultural work - an estimated 80% of Nepalis work at least part-time in the agricultural sector - insufficient access to resources and inadequate infrastructure have meant that poor rural families often don't get enough to eat. They don't have the knowledge or the basic tools to avoid malnutrition and food insecurity.

ETC changes all that. We provide high-quality seeds and seedlings, tools and supplies (such as bamboo poles, plastic sheets, hoses, etc.), and training to help women grow more and better food, even in the winter! In the villages where we are presently working, the winter weather is suitable for certain crops such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage.

We focus on low-cost, eco-friendly methods. Take the example of using agro-chemicals for pest control purposes. Agro-chemicals are terribly expensive for small farmers as well as causing damage to the soil, thus eventually DECREASING crop yield. Earlier this year, we held a training at which dozens of women learned which locally available plants to put in place around their gardens and fields, to attract the beneficial insects that will not cause harm to the crops, but instead will destroy certain pests that do cause harm to the crops.

We have nearly reached our fundraising goal for this project. On behalf of the thousands of Nepalis who can now eat more and better food, I thank you for your interest in and support of this important work! I also encourage you to visit our other active GlobalGiving project, which is #15934 (link below), to learn more about our efforts to improve schools in rural Nepal.

Women harvesting food from their garden
Women harvesting food from their garden


Chock Badahur Thami with cabbage crop
Chock Badahur Thami with cabbage crop

Winter is approaching - rather quickly, for those of us living in the northeastern United States! In Dolakha too, although the colder weather is on its way, late fall and early winter is the time for women farmers to start planting and cultivating cold crops in their kitchen gardens and small farms.

Those of us who are at best casual gardeners, or who live fairly far north, may not realize that there are many nutritious foods that can be grown year-round. In Educate the Children's current project area in Dolakha, Nepal, while it can and often does dip below freezing at night, the daytime high temperatures during the winter often reach into the 50s and 60s Fahrenheit - about 15-16 degrees Celsius being the average daily high temperature in January. (While the elevation in this region is above 7,000 feet/2,100 meters, it is at about the same latitude as central Florida - so it doesn't typically get so terribly cold despite the elevation!)

What can be grown in the winter months, in Dolakha? Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage are among the most popular crops. All are relatively easy to grow, being suited for the soil and climate, and not requiring extensive labor on the part of the farmers.

ETC has stressed these "off-season" crops in our sustainable agriculture training activities in Dolakha, so that women farmers can feed their families more nutritious food and earn income year-round. In fact, many farmers have had such success on a small scale that they are now able and willing to grow these vegetables on a larger scale. In the previous project report, I mentioned that ETC's women's group members who now operate larger-scale farms earned an average of $283 in the past program year - which represents for them an increase of 50% or more in annual household income.

When I was visiting ETC's project area in March 2013, the cauliflower harvest had just been accomplished, and I was fortunate enough to be able to eat it - tastily seasoned - with many of my meals. It was delicious!

We are deeply grateful for your support of our Sustainable Agriculture project. Please visit the links below to learn more about ETC's work. Best wishes for the forthcoming holiday season!

Healthy head of cauliflower!
Healthy head of cauliflower!


A woman in her kitchen garden
A woman in her kitchen garden


For those of us living in the developed world, that doesn't sound like much - but to a woman farmer in rural Nepal, it is more money than she has ever earned before. 

And $283 is the average amount earned last year by the 42 women who are, with ETC's help, running semi-commercial vegetable farms on pieces of land averaging about 7,400 square feet (676 square meters).

These are women who, a mere five years ago, couldn't even read or write, much less run their own small businesses. But today, they are earning more money to support their families than they could ever before have imagined. ETC provides them with the resources and training they need to succeed, and taught them basic literacy and numeracy too, as well as important business practices such as price-setting and record-keeping.

Your support of our sustainable agricultural development work has made possible a source of pride and livelihood for these women and many others. Among the other achievements of our program year that ended on 30 June 2013 are:

  • All 842 of our women's group members are growing kitchen gardens. Of those, 98% are in "excellent" or "good" condition; only 2% could use some improvements (for example, they may need more frequent weeding).
  • The women's kitchen gardens yielded more than 650,000 lb. (295,000 kg.) of produce. Of that amount, about 83% was consumed by the women's families, and the remaining 17% was sold at market for an average of $27 per woman. Again - while this doesn't sound like much to us, keep in mind that it represents about three weeks' worth of their pre-ETC household income.
  • Our agricultural training activities focused on encouraging the cultivation of high-value crops such as tomatoes and mushrooms (for 46 training participants), and "cold crops" such as cauliflower, broccoli, and cabbage (for 37 training participants). All are very suitable for the climate and soil conditions. I can tell you from personal experience that the "cold crop" harvest in February 2013 was plentiful - I visited in March 2013 and ate a lot of cauliflower. And normally I don't particularly care for cauliflower, but I loved this! So fresh, and seasoned nicely!
  • Because it is not possible for all 842 women's group members to attend any given agricultural training event, each women's group has a chosen Leader Farmer who attends as many trainings as possible and passes along the knowledge gained to her peers during their monthly women's group meetings, as well as by visiting her friends and neighbors and discussing farm topics with them.
  • ETC also supports livestock farmers: We provided training (in proper feeding, housing, etc.) and seed money (to buy female goats) for 52 aspiring goat farmers, each of whom is working to start her own small livestock farm. Goats are very popular because they are relatively easy to care for and do not take up a lot of space, and because they provide milk as well as meat. The average income during the past year for these 52 women, from their goat-farming activities, was $77; it is sure to increase in years to come as the farms are better established.
  • Through our Agriculture in Schools program, we are working with 53 children at three schools, to teach them about basic farming and kitchen gardening techniques. They are responsible for maintaining kitchen gardens on the grounds of their schools, and they are able to pass along what they learn to their farming families. They are also encouraged to develop a deeper appreciation for the fundamental dignity and importance of agricultural work.

As you can see, we had a very busy and successful year. We are so grateful to you for your support of our sustainable agricultural development work, and hope that we have conveyed to you through this and other reports how much of a real, life-changing impact your support has made!

A mother goat and her kids
A mother goat and her kids


Leafy greens - great source of vitamins
Leafy greens - great source of vitamins

On behalf of everyone at Educate the Children, I would like to thank you again for your support of our agricultural development work in Nepal.

Some of you may be wondering why, if we are called "Educate the Children," we are doing agricultural work. The answer to that question takes us back some 20 years.

ETC was (as the name indicates!) started for the purpose of giving impoverished children the opportunity to attend school even if their families could not afford to pay for uniforms, school supplies and fees, etc. However, we soon realized that our work would be even more effective if we did two other things as well:

  • Ensured that the children's parents, often illiterate themselves, were convinced of the value of education in their children's lives, and
  • Ensured that the children had enough to eat, because they cannot do well in school if they are hungry or malnourished.

Earlier this year, I bought myself a plane ticket and visited Nepal for the first time. I saw first-hand the kitchen gardens, larger vegetable farms, and goat and poultry farms of hundreds of families in the Dolakha District, where ETC is presently working. I even got to eat some of the local foods at my daily meals - especially caulflower, eggs, milk, and greens - and it was fresh and tasty and nutritious!

Here are some of the activities that your generosity has made possible during the past several months:

  • An animal health clinic: 180 local farmers brought some 3,000 farm animals to this clinic, at which two veterinarians and five veterinary technicians provided routine check-ups, vaccinations, and medications for the animals.
  • Kitchen garden resources: ETC distributed seeds for summer crops to 842 women who are growing nutritious food in their kitchen gardens. Their families eat better year-round because of these gardens, and any excess produce can be sold at market to increase household incomes.
  • Agricultural training: ETC's agricultural staff specialists held a training workshop on mushroom cultivation. Mushrooms are a good cash crop in Nepal.

We promote low-cost, environmentally friendly farming techniques, including the use of compost and non-toxic pesticides made from natural and readily available ingredients such as plant extracts.

The skills and knowledge these women have gained through participating in ETC's agricultural development activities will last them a lifetime, and will help ensure that their families will eat better for years to come. Moreover, the income generated from agricultural activities enables women to keep their children in school and to support their families' well-being in many other ways that were not previously possible.

The photos below and on the website link are those I took in March 2013 in Nepal. I hope you enjoy seeing how your generosity is truly making a difference in the lives of people in Nepal!

Many women run small goat farms
Many women run small goat farms



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Organization Information

Educate the Children

Location: Ithaca, NY - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Lisa Lyons
Executive Director
Ithaca, NY United States

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Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.

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