Summer News Update
The latest news on our women's farm in Nepal and more.
The Mountain Fund A village project in Nepal and much, much more A hand up, not a hand out. What’s inside this issue and some short stories too Farm in Nepal Most of this issue is about farming. Specifically it’s about our existing farm for women in Nepal and what’s happening there and what needs to happen to move this project forward. We hope you’ll decide to join us and help. Global Giving and Mountain Fund This summer we’ve been hosting two volunteer trainers from Global Giving and our own volunteer Kris who attended some training at Global Giving headquarters before departing to Nepal. Together, the three of them are training our staff, Jenee and Manisha to conduct orientations about Global Giving and assist local NGO’s in the use of Global Giving. See page 13 for more Volunteers in Nepal Recently we began to take our volunteers out of the valley and into the village to experience life in rural Nepal. I’ve added a short photo section of our volunteers working in a rural village on a farm and planting trees at our own farm. Yesterday a group of our volunteers planted 100 trees at the farm. See the photos on page 12 2 Short stories Nepal Youth Network dot com Our initiative to create a platform for positive discussion, idea sharing and showing the talent of the youth of Nepal is off to a solid start. In just one month we have 235 members, 995 posts, 370 comments and over 40 entries in our monthly photo contest. Give it a look at www.nepalyouthnetwork.com or better yet, join and become a mentor. Medical Trek Coming this October Help for Banke Village Fire Victims When fire swept through the village of Banke it destroyed 80 homes and left 200 people homeless. Working with an NGO partner in Nepal The Mountain Fund helped provide tarpaulins so people could get a roof back over their heads before the monsoon season. Nepal Needs Medical Volunteers… Are you up for the challenge? Join us for Medical Trek Nepal. If you are a medical professional or medical student, we need your help. In Nepal, healthcare can be nonexistent for those living in rural villages. The people there often go years suffering from illnesses or discomfort that are easily cured with basic medical care. http://trekthimalaya.com 3 Changing the world, one village at a time. Welcome to rural Nepal, home to the majority of Nepal’s population and where you will find a lot of farmers getting by on less than a dollar a day. The village is really the backbone of the country and it’s also where a majority of the poverty is. Subsistence farmers, typically with one-acre plots of land, scratch out a living here. Dependent almost entirely on the seasonal monsoon rains as well as the government’s supply of seed and fertilizer, which are nearly always in short supply, these hard working farmers barely grow enough to feed their families and in fact, often face serious shortages of food. Agriculture in Nepal has changed little over the course of hundreds of years. Small plots of land, family labor, wooden plow and oxen and survival crops such as rice and corn are the mainstay. Our farm in rural Nepal has many objectives including; A place for women with no place to go, where they can sustain themselves and their children by growing food. A classic hand up, not handout. A demonstration farm so the villagers can see how to increase food production and income using modern agricultural techniques. A place for volunteers to come and learn the reality of life in rural Nepal. It is also complete community support program with the farm as the base of operations. Over the next couple of years we will build and create a community center to host work that the village has specifically said they’d like to see such as; The importance of the village in Nepal and it’s impact on poverty. 80-85 % of Nepal is rural, subsistence farming. Most of these farmers have approximately one-acre plots of land on which they attempt to grow enough food to feed their family, mostly without success, and attempt also to have some crops to sell for cash. The key to poverty elimination lies with these farmers. More than 70% of the world’s poorest people are small scale farmers. Computer access for village youth. The youth group in the village is very active and they recognize that in order to compete they need to learn computer skills. The women’s group has asked for a place to hold meetings and to learn craft skills such as bead making so they can have a product to sell for some cash income. The village also wants a small urgent care clinic and health topic trainings. It starts with the farm itself. One thing that is sorely lacking in the community is the ability to irrigate crops. At present there are several small streams and springs scattered here and there throughout the village. These water resources provide drinking water and water for crops but only on a rotational basis where each family gets a few hours of water each day. This is because there is no way to hold and keep water for irrigation in the village. At present there are some black plastic pipes stuck into the stream and each house takes a turn connecting itâ€™s plastic pipe to the primary one so they can get water to their home and fields for a few hours each day. Building some irrigation ponds is not a particularly difficult task, nor is it an expensive undertaking either. Farm ponds have been extensively used throughout Europe for centuries as a way to retain water for irrigation and as a way to raise fish to add a source of protein to farm diets. Aquaculture as it is sometimes called allows a village to store water in earthen ponds is an integral part of agricultural farming systems. Many of these ponds were constructed during medieval times, on land that had no or little value for conventional agricultural cropping. Their primary objective was, and commonly still is, to store water. The ponds also served an additional function, which was the production of common carp. Livestock manure is used to fertilize the ponds. Carp are stocked at an extensive level and fed with low cost feed such as farm by-products. An economic assessment of such practices has indicated that revenues from fish sales might only just cover expenditures. However, fish production spreads farm inputs and diversifies outputs, and thus reduces management risk. Moreover, farm managers perceive extensive fish farming as a means to Water Criteria Facts With just 1/3 of the farmland irrigated, the single most important step needed to improve farm earnings is low-cost drip irrigation systems. Agriculture percent of GDP 38% of GDP is agriculture Number of people at food security risk 3.7 million Percent of farm land with year-round working irrigation 30% To improve health in the villages, the single greatest thing that can be done is provide clean drinking water. "Earlier, I could grow just one maize crop a year in the rainy monsoon season and had to leave the land fallow for the rest of the year. But now I grow three crops a year using drip irrigation, water harvesting and other simple technologies." "I am very pleased with the results. I now earn an additional Nepali rupees 60,000 (around 1,000 dollars) per year from my farm," - a Nepalese farmer after installing a farm pond for irrigation. 6 assure a certain degree of subsistence, and to maintain an asset in times of crisis. Donâ€™t donate - INVEST, continued The table on the right demonstrates what a difference this can make. Poor farms are ones where the owner cannot afford to irrigate and on non-poor they can. The numbers shown are annual farm incomes, in Nepalese rupees. The increased incomes are substantial. These figures are a few years old but the representation of income differences holds true today. Location Poor annual income nrs Non-Poor annual income nrs Plains farmers 8,014 15,786 Hill Farmers 11,161 21,115 Mountain Farmers 11,199 26,058 Nepal does not produce enough food to satisfy domestic demand, it has to import food equal to domestic production deficit.There was 316,000 metric tons food deficit in 2010, an increase by 139 percent from 2009, according to the WFP. In 2009, agricultural trade deficit was US$270 million, up from US$157 million in 2003 7 INVEST in our village and see your investment grow, quite literally ! Once the ponds are in place, we propose to hire the Mankhu Village Youth Group (approximately 30 members) and pay them a monthly wage to manage and maintain the ponds. The group will use their earnings for a variety of village youth programs including bringing the internet to the local youth clubhouse. The payment for maintenance to the youth group is coming from the farmers themselves who will each contribute a small amount in exchange for the ability to irrigate their fields from the community system. Increase crop production from increased irrigation more than offsets the cost of maintaining the system. The income of each home rises, the youth group has a source of income for its activities and everyone had more food. We plan to start immediate construction so that at the end of the monsoon season (late August) we can begin irrigation in the fields to keep crop production going during the time it would normally be tapering off. Total cost for 2 ponds is $10,000-$12,000USD. These ponds will provide improved irrigation for more than 80 The undeveloped state of agriculture: lack of irrigation, use of traditional technology, subsistence production, inaccess to market, have rendered even relatively large landholders into the state of poverty. What we are doing to end poverty, one village at a time. households and impact the lives of more than 3-400 villagers. The per capita one-time investment is under $25. This is a hand up and not a hand out. The villagers will have to pay for use of the ponds and maintenance of the ponds. An investment of $25 per person is all that is required to install two ponds as a starting point for improved irrigation in the village. The irrigation will also allow farmers to produce â€œoff seasonâ€? vegetables which yield the highest prices in the marketplace. At present, agriculture is almost entirely dependent on the annual monsoon season. The monsoons bring moisture laden air from the Bay of Bengal into Nepal and itâ€™s during this season, which is approximately three to three-and-a-half months long that Nepal is fully engaged in food production. 8 With the arrival of the monsoon, nearly everyone ceases all other work and heads to the fields to plant crops, especially rice, the staple crop for the country. The monsoon rainfall accounts for about 80% of the total annual rainfall in Nepal. Agriculture in Nepal is so dependent on the arrival of the monsoon season that late arrival of the monsoons, or a short duration can leave millions in a food shortage crisis. In 2009 a short monsoon season, with an arrival nearly one-month late, caused rice production to drop by as much as 25% and plunged millions into hunger. That year the World Food Program reported 41% of the population was undernourished. To minimize the devastating impact of a late arriving monsoon, or a season of short rainfall, we need farm ponds where the plentiful surface water can be stored after the monsoon and used to water crops, thereby extending the growing season by perhaps months. There is a good reference paper by the Department of Aquaculture an on such projects at https://www.was.org/documents/MeetingPresentations/ AQ2010/AQ2010_1213.pdf This project was over the course of two years and specifically focused on fish farming. The increased food production and increased levels of income are impressive. If our first two irrigation ponds can demonstrate this kind of output, we may consider expanding and focusing more on fish farming as well. We need your investment in this project to make it happen. Please go right now to https://www.mountainfund.org/donate/ and make a donation to the Mankhu Village Farm and watch your investment grow, quite literally. Step One - Manage Water Resources. Farm Ponds Mankkhu has plentiful water. Thereâ€™s no effective management of the resource. At present, a plastic pipe is inserted in a stream flow. Each farm house has itâ€™s own plastic pipe to tap the stream flow and bring water for crops. Each house gets only 2 hours each day of tap time so that all houses can share the resource. Installing just 2 inexpensive holding ponds would allow over 80 families to extend field watering time, thereby increasing production and variety of crops. The impact of simple, cheap irrigation in a village cannot be overstated. With holding ponds that allow water to be held for irrigation, the entire game of farming changes. Making a home for women Our first priority at the farm is creating a home for women who have no home so they can grow food and care for themselves and their children. Weâ€™ll provide land and roof over their heads, they have to supply the labor to plant and grow their own food, something nearly every Nepali woman already knows how to do. We have two houses on our farmland now, but it just isnâ€™t enough to meet the demand. We are planning now to start construction on another home in September, after the monsoon season ends. This home will be the first (and thus far only) home built in the area using earth-bag construction. Earth-bags are an environmentally friendly way to build, using recycled rice bags filled with dirt instead of bricks or concrete. They have the added advantage of being earthquake resistant, an important consideration in a country that sits in a zone of high seismic activity. We have one donor group, a school from Canada, who has pledged to donate 50% of the money needed to build another house and will bring 30 volunteers to help with the construction. We are, however, short by 50% of the material costs needed to build another house. So, as you may be anticipating here is the link to make a donation. Use the Mankhu Village Farm for Women option and help us build a house. Thanks for your support. Buy a woman a cow. (yes it’s donation link, click on it) Women face widespread restrictions with their ability to buy, sell or inherit land, open a savings account, borrow money or sell their crops at market. They also are more likely than men to lack access to rudimentary basics of farming such as fertilizers, water, tillers, transportation, improved crop and animal varieties, and extension services. We need to reorient the thinking of donors, researchers and aid groups to recognize women as farmers, and to see women’s activities—whether they are gardening, storing, processing, packaging, transporting or marketing their crops—as central to agriculture and food security. A good, producing cow can be purchased for about $300USD and provide daily milk and much needed organic fertilizer. The impact of a liter or two of milk each day on the family food needs can’t be overstated. It’s a great source of protein, vitamins and minerals for women and their children. As a personal aside, whenever I am in the village I enjoy a liter of fresh milk daily. If you’ve never had fresh milk on the farm, you missing a real treat. Scott 11 Urgent Need to buy a few cows. Large ruminants (cattle, buffalo) play a vital role in the whole agricultural system and so have a large influence on the rural economy of Nepal. It can be said that large ruminants are the backbone of Nepalese agriculture. Livestock enterprises constitute a major source of income for the average household in Nepal. A multipurpose household budget survey (Nepal Rastra Bank, 1988) showed that, of the total household income, livestock sources contributed 21.2% in the mountains, 19.7% in the hills and 9.7% in the Terai. In a household survey in a mid hill village of western Nepal, Shrestha et al (1991) reported that only 12.9% of annual cash income came from agricultural activities, of which livestock enterprises contributed 8.6%. The major livestock product for cash generation is ghee followed by live animals. However, in urban and peri-urban areas where milk collection facilities exist, the sale of fluid milk is a major source of income. The Dairy Development Corporation (DDC) is the major buyer and it controls about 65% of the market by volume. During 1986/87, 15 million liters were collected by the DDC, representing 2% of total annual production. Milk is collected from some 50,000 farmers with the average volume procured per farmer being 1.0– 1.5 litre/day (LMP, 1991). From a paper by B.R. Joshi entitled The Role of Large Ruminants Our staff and volunteers planted 100 trees at the farm 12 Of the 62 projects for Nepal on Global Giving, only a handful are posted by local, grassroots organizations from Nepal. Global Giving and The Mountain Fund are changing that right now. 13 About Mountain Fund and Global Giving There are more than 30,000 registered NGO’s in Nepal. So why do so few use Global Giving, a web portal for online fundraising that The Mountain Fund uses as part of its overall fundraising efforts and a tool that is custom made just for small NGO’s. We set out to find out why in partnership with Global Giving and to discover what can be done to increase use by these Nepalese NGO’s. Work on the ground in Nepal is going on right now with training seminars and field visits so we don’t have all the answers just yet. What we know is that the use of technologies like web sites and web based giving is something new in Nepal. Many small NGO’s don’t have web sites and the lack of resources for accepting online donations in Nepal furthers hampers growth in the area of the web as a fundraising strategy. Global Giving has two volunteer trainers in Nepal right now working with our staff and volunteers to train The Mountain Fund in how to support increased use of Global Giving amongst grassroots organizations. Soon, we will have trained Nepali staff at the ready to assist these NGO’s in how to use Global Giving, how to get qualified and vetted and how to tell compelling stories about their work to the Global Giving donor audience. Just one more of a million little earth-changing ideas from Global Giving. The Mountain Fund A hand up, not a handout Main Office 2716 San Pedro NE Suite D Albuquerque, NM 87110 Web http://www.mountainfund.org Facebook https://www.facebook.com/TheMountainFund Recipient of the 2010 Sir Edmund Hillary Mountain Legacy Medal