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