“There are different Income Generation Activities (IGAs) we are working on, off season farming is the key one. Off-seasonal farming allows farmers to sell their products in market in higher price which contributes to significant income growth.
“Initially, through the baseline surveys we had identified 23 beneficiaries. After we had conducted a focused group discussion with the farmers of the community, the findings were immensely informative for effective implementation of our work here. Through the focus groups, we came to know about the outdated traditional farming practices the villagers were doing, and the consequences and problems associated with it.
The Situation Before
“Agriculture is the main income generation activity that has been practiced from ages in Chapthok village. Despite being engaged in agriculture for a while, there has not been any significant growth in income out of those agricultural practices. The community members depend heavily on agriculture and animal farming, however the production and income from agriculture and animal farming fluctuates greatly, with many households struggling to put food on the table for a whole year.
“We had found that lack of knowledge about modern farming techniques was the main factor behind the situation of the agriculture sector in Chapthok. People are still practicing traditional old agricultural practices which is only good for living by a subsistence way of life.
“One of our host families had tried tomato a farming few years back but they didn’t succeed. They could not harvest the first cycle of production as the plants died of disease unknown to them. This is just one instance and there are many more. This leads to fewer rural jobs and a lack of income generating opportunities, meaning young people from the village have migrated to other cites or even abroad in search of employment.
“We thought it would be wonderful for the community people to have a better source of income so that people do not have to migrate and can uplift their living by staying and working in their own community.
The Situation Now
“The introduction of an off-season farming programme seemed to be the best way of mitigating those problems we have mentioned as the community has already been practicing farming. To address above discussed difficulties, we had conducted different training sessions such as off season farming using polytunnels, nursery bed preparation, and manure and pesticide improvement. Our community members were very keen to gain knowledge and they actively participated in all training. Building polytunnels was of high interest to most of the community members as they could see the direct benefit of it. We have built a total of 23 polytunnels for 23 beneficiaries.
“Participation of the community members, their involvement was amazing. We recall one instance, after returning from our mid-project review, one of the community members had already built a polytunnel on his own. He was highly motivated seeing our work.
“The Chapthok community members are very excited to yield 1404 kg of tomatoes in six months from one polytunnel (this is the average production from one polytunnel).
“The farming techniques will hopefully allow community members to start commercial farming and earn their living without having to migrate. Now, they have the knowledge, skills, hopes, opportunity and positive mindset.
“As we were constructing polytunnels, migrated household members were returning to Chapthok to start their own commercial vegetable farming and eager to be a professional farmer. This was the change what we had hoped to achieve during our short stay here.”
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images by communications officer Suman