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3 Dec 2019 | RMS

Jholmal produces safer food and fetches better income

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The village of Bhoterungti in Kavre Palanchowk District, Nepal was one of many settlements in the region affected by the April 2015 earthquake. Most houses were constructed with bricks and mud mortar and were deemed unsafe. People now live in temporary shelters made up of galvanised corrugated sheets. Various organisations are supporting the settlement as people struggle to bring life back to normal.

Suntali Rai Danuwar’s uses Jholmal to fertilise her broccoli in Kavre Palanchowk, Nepal.
Photo: Roshan Subedi/CEAPRED

Suntali Rai Danuwar of Bhoterungti planted cabbage, cauliflowers and broccoli across four ropanis (2034.96 m2) of land and all are free of chemical pesticides and instead rely solely on Jholmal – a homemade bio-fertilizer and bio-pesticide. Ms Danuwar prepared the Jholmal concoction sourcing locally available materials near her home and is cultivating vegetables on four ropanis as compared to just one ropani last year.

In June 2015, Ms Danuwar joined the Shree Seti Devi Farmer Group supported by the Resilient Mountain Villages (RMV) project implemented by the Center for Environment and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED) and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) in Kavre District. The RMV project, supports farmers in implementing climate smart practices to minimise the risk of climate change in agriculture and developing resilient farming solutions.

Since its inception in May 2014, the project in Mahadevsthan has demonstrated several technologies related to water smart practices, nutrient smart practices, crop smart practices among others, attracting a wide range of farmers.

Today, all farmers in this settlement prepare and apply Jholmal to their crops. Many of them have also constructed plastic ponds in their fields to collect waste and rain water to water their home gardens and vegetable farms.

Ms Danuwar earned NPR 52,000 when she sold her first harvest of cauliflower. She claims that her next harvest will fetch her an additional NPR 60,000. Her cauliflowers fetched NPR 60 per kg, and the market rates are still favourable. The Kathmandu–Melamchi highway that runs next to her village, provide her crops better market access and hence better prices.

Ramdeo Sah, Senior Agriculture Technician with CEAPRED, maintains that the farmers quickly picked up on the demonstrated techniques. This season they have cultivated vegetable crops in 42 ropanis (21,367.08 m2) of land without applying any chemical fertilisers.

Sano Kanchha Rai Danuwar, President of Shree Seti Devi, reconfirms that all 21 members have cultivated vegetable crops this year across 42 ropanis of land. He estimates to collectively produce 65 metric tonnes of vegetables this season. Selling their harvest of vegetables, member families will earn at least NPR 35,000, while some members will earn as much as NPR 110,000.

Mr Danuwar said Jholmal is the best thing that has happened to them and every household in the village prepares and stores Jholmal. Members in his group have now adopted safer production methods, and minimised the use of chemical pesticides.

He believes this positive change in farming practice will save the environment and improve people’s health in the community.

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