Chitraman chooses farming in his own village over foreign employment
Chitraman is 33 years old, who has experienced the hardships of working abroad as a laborer. He had gone to Malaysia to work in a plastic manufacturing factory and worked there for six years until he came back to his village and joined a farmer group through the Child Sensitive Livelihood and Social Protection (CLSP) project. He currently lives with his wife, a son (7) and a daughter (3) in Udayapur. He is the youngest among his siblings. He received 10 ropanis of land as ancestral property where his wife used to farm barley, maize and spinach which made them less than NPR. 15000 in a season of six months. Since they had no other income source, he had to go abroad to work 12 hours a day to feed his family.
When he came back to Nepal three years ago, he joined a farmer group formed by the CLSP project implemented by Child Development Society and supported by Save the Children. He tried farming with just one tunnel of tomato to experiment whether he could see his future in farming. Now, he is farming tomato, Akabare chilli, cauliflower, and various seasonal vegetables in four ropanis of land, earning up to NPR 3,00,000 in a season of six months. His son is studying in grade two and his daughter will be joining ECD next year. Although the school does not require tuition fees, everything else from stationery items, uniforms and other daily needs of the children must be taken care of. He says, “Back then when my family bought cauliflower for dinner, it felt like we had bought meat, which was rare but now we eat meat every week because we can afford it. My children can eat nutritious food now.” His family can have nutritious meals daily now.
“Before I joined the FG, our family used to farm maize, spinach, and barley just enough for our family. We used to grow only to consume. We have a total of 10 ropanis of land but when I joined the FG, I started with one tunnel of tomato. Currently I farm in four ropanis of land where I plant tomato, Akabare chilli, cauliflower as a farming business and we farm rice, barley, maize etc for our own consumption. In each season (six months), if the vegetables/chillies grow as expected without diseases, I earn an average of NPR 3,00,000. If I were to farm the same old crops (maize, barley) in those same four ropanis, I would earn a maximum of NPR. 15,000”, says Chitraman.
The CLSP project has supported farmers like him with tomato tunnels, mulching plastics, seeds and most importantly, consistent technical assistance which has resulted in youth like Chitraman to embrace farming in his own village, staying close to his children and looking after them. Chitraman plans to expand his farming to his remaining land with the help of additional workers. He says, “If the project had not started here when I came back from Malaysia, we would be still farming in traditional way as no one had any idea on modern cash crops and no one was courageous enough to experiment. The project staff, in a way, took our hand and showed us the way, just like we take our children’s hand and teach them to write.”
“I want to say that if other youth like me were to try farming in their own village, they would not have to work odd jobs in Khadi (Arab) countries or even in our own country. I had to work 12 hours a day when I was in Malaysia and now, I have realized that if I work the same hours in my own farm, I can earn more than what I used to abroad while being close to home. When you are working in other’s factory, you must obey their rules no matter what but now I can work at my own pace and build my business for a better future”, Chitraman shares his hope.
About CLSP project:
Improving the lives of children in Udayapur, Nepal, through Livelihoods and Social Protection (CLSP) is an extension of the previously implemented CLSP II project, funded by the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) in coordination of Save the Children New Zealand. The current phase of the CLSP project is funded by Save the Children New Zealand (SCNZ) through the CLSP- additional funding (March 2022 to February 2023) and is being implemented in partnership with Child Development Society (CDS) with the aim of sustaining the results of first and second phase, especially in the areas of enhancing production and market linkages. The overall objective of the project is, to improve the lives of the most vulnerable Nepali children in Udayapur district through increase in income and food security at the household level as envisioned during the Phase II of CLSP.
The project’s long-term outcome is to enable families in Udayapur to meet the health, nutrition and education needs of children. For that, CLSP-II aims to improve livelihood situation of small farmers and youth from poor families via market led agriculture, increase access of poor families and children to Government of Nepal provisioned Social Protection Schemes and Child Endowment Fund (CEF) and enhance capacity of local governments in designing and implementation of child sensitive social protection and livelihood interventions.
CLSP-additional Funds has already established 71 farmer’s group in the project area where, a total of 1127 farmers (Female-718 Male-409, Dalit-84, Janajati-476, Other-567) have been trained in improved farming system with latest technologies. In addition to training farmers, the project also supported strengthening and operationalization of a collection center in Udayapurgadhi rural municipality with improved grading and packaging technologies. In line with training farmers, 972 families ((Female-610, Male-363, Dalit-72, Janajati-406, Other-495) families have been trained on commercial vegetable farming skills to increase their income for children's wellbeing. The project indirectly reaches 2332 (Girls-1194, Boys-1138) children through its livelihood intervention in Udayapur.