If you do it right, you can even make a deal out of it!

  • Dipendra Lamsal
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Dawa Tamang, a 42-year-old farmer from Bhangeri Village, Nuwakot district, was facing hard times due to his low income and lack of knowledge about efficient agricultural strategies. With the help and support of Caritas Nepal, he began to grow tomatoes in a new and improved way. This attempt soon proved to be a great success, which not only prompted him to expand his business, but also left him as the project’s best beneficiary in 2019. He is one of the best examples of how a little education and support can make a big difference in one’s life.

Before the project was carried out in his village, he produced tomatoes only for the self-consumption of his family, so remembers Dawa. Sometimes he even had to buy additional tomatoes and vegetables from other manufacturers because his yield was not high enough to meet the needs of the family. This was mainly because he lacked knowledge and techniques for tomato production. For example, he did not know much about the parasites and diseases that kill tomato plants and how to prevent them. In addition, there was only a very small market as he lives in a very remote area of ​​Nuwakot. That is why he never thought of turning his tomato cultivation into a business.

“As my house is in a high place, very few people come and visit my place,” says Dawa with a smile. Too little education and poor access to the market resulted in such a low income that he could not even afford a good education for his children.

The situation changed when Caritas launched the project “Strenghening people’s action for WASH and sustainable livelihood” in the Nuwakot district. As part of this, Dawa was given a three-day training course on tomato cultivation and nursery management. He was also informed about the right time to grow tomatoes and the correct height, distance and size of a tunnel, which is very important for increasing the yield. He also received information about various parasites:

“Before we didn’t use to figure out the disease that killed the tomatoes. In 2 or 3 months they were rotting.”

Then in May 2019 he started to build a bamboo tunnel with a plastic roof himself. Using plastic wrap, drip irrigation and backpack sprayer provided by Caritas Nepal, he was able to grow and sell 400kg of tomatoes this season in just one tunnel consisting of 90 plants. As if that was not enough, he expects another 200 kg harvest this year. However, he not only grows tomatoes but also peas and chilli plants in the same tunnel to effectively use the space between the tomato plants. In the past Dawa used to earn 50,000 NPRs a year, today he earns 30,000 to 35,000 NPRs in just four months. This means he can now earn 90,000 to 105,000 NPRs in one year. Dawa wants to use this extra income to send his children to a better school and expand his business next year.

“Before the village had no idea about tunnel farming, it’s been one year we have the farmer’s group. It is motivating us. Other farmers are growing mushrooms too. As you showed us the way, we are aiming to expand it too.”

Dawa’s engagement in the community

Dawa Tamang is not the only one in his village who grows tomatoes, even though he is the most successful. There are four other farmers who have also received training and support to build a tunnel. They all collect the proceeds at Dawa’s place, from where traders bring them to markets like Satbise, Samundratar and Ramati. As part of this project, 23 farmers founded the Shree Mahadev Farmers Group, which gathers on the 6th of each month to earn savings. Dawa was even elected president and local resource person of his peasant group. This means that he is now responsible for communication between the community and the implementing partner. He says proudly:

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