Cookie Consent by Privacy Policies website Update cookies preferences

Unveiling stories of resilience in Dailekh, Nepal 

Young researcher and ICIMOD / GRAPE Embrace Equity Grant recipient Bidhya Poudel Chhetri chronicles the challenges and opportunities for women agriculturalists in the far west of Nepal
Published: 16 Apr, 2024
⏲ 5 minutes Read

In September, I set off on a fortnight long field survey to the remote and picturesque far west region of Dailekh, to Dullu and Naumule – two centres for the Green Resilient Agriculture Productive Ecosystems (GRAPE) project, which aims to foster climate resilient and green economic growth of Nepal’s Sudurpashchim and Karnali provinces. 

My research set out to assess the awareness and adoption of woman-friendly agriculture tools and technologies by local vegetable growers, and understand the challenges faced by female farmers, and how these are being exacerbated by climate change and outmigration of men. 

Dailekh province is breathtakingly beautiful, and I felt an immediate connection with its warm people. I split my time evenly between the two villages, engaging with women farmers through interviews and focus group discussions to learn about the challenges of their daily lives, their farming practices, and their use of women-friendly agricultural tools.  

I learned that these mountain women, despite being the backbone of agriculture here, grapple with limited access to resources ranging from land ownership and finance, to water, education, and decision-making processes.  

Narma Jaishi, in Dullu, was one who ticked off a shopping list of obstacles: from the lack of land to insufficient finance, to incursions by wild boar, and scarcity of water.  

Despite the challenges, Narma was adamant to improve her situation, and she had already adopted drip irrigation to mitigate the lack of water. Her resilience and courage were inspiring.  

A woman's quest for change  

On my journey, I found pockets of success: including places where woman-friendly tools and technologies were making a tangible difference to people’s crop yields, and lives.  

Sita Sharma Dhakal, a 29-year-old farmer from Naumule, acts as a local resource person at the community learning centre, which is an anchor for the implementation of ICIMOD’s GRAPE work.  

Sita’s family owns 20 ropanis of land (1.02 hectare), which serves as the entire family of five’s sole source of income. She says GRAPE has transformed how they farm, and her family’s fortunes. 

Bidhya 2
Sita Sharma Dhakal working in her farm

She is now able to augment her traditional farming skills with vegetable farming, nursery preparation, bio-fertilizer preparation (jholmal), and has a much greater understanding of climate change and organic farming practices.  

She is also now president of the Bhursu Aayarjan Farmers Group , alongside her role as local resource person at the community learning centre, and she also oversees six agriculture cooperative farmers groups within the VDC. 

Sita has embraced climate-resilient and woman-friendly tools and technologies, incorporating practices like Vermi Wash, Vermi Compost, polyhouse tunnel, water-can sprayer, drip irrigation, and integrated pest management techniques such as yellow sticky trap, water trap, funnel trap, delta trap, and jholmal.  

These techniques have allowed her to successfully cultivate seasonal and off-season vegetables like tomato, cabbage, cauliflower, brinjal, and chilies.  

This strategic shift in farming practices has not only led to a steady monthly income ranging from Nepalese Rupees 30,000 to 40,000 in the polyhouse tunnel but has also empowered her to cover the expenses related to her children and household. 

“Sharing knowledge I gained through training and workshops with fellow farmers, and especially communicating with women farmers gives me immense happiness,” she told me.  

The incorporation of woman-friendly tools and practices has not only elevated her vegetable productivity but also empowered her to assume leadership roles in her community.  

From theory to action 

As a young woman passionate about climate change and climate-resilient agriculture practices, I felt privileged and inspired to witness the proactive efforts of individuals like Sita, alongside many other women in the community.  

These women are learning, adapting, and implementing climate-resilient technologies on their farms, translating theory into practical action. 

Listening to the stories of women like Sita, Narma, and scores more like them, made me realize the power of translating theory into action.  

Bidhya 1
Bidhya conducting survey in Dailekh

These women have become my role models, showing me that passion and dedication can drive positive change.  

And seeing these women in action has motivated me to translate my concerns about climate change into tangible actions.  

It's a shared commitment to creating a more sustainable and resilient future.  

And I hope that by highlighting their efforts, more people, especially young women like myself, will be inspired to join the movement for a better, climate-friendly world. 

As I conclude my on-site research, the pages of my notebook are rich with narratives of transformation and adaptation.  

This journey has given me more than just academic knowledge; it has provided a profound insight into the intricate connections between gender dynamics, farming practices, and community interactions.  

For me, these field visits were not just data collection points but windows into the lives of those whose stories often go unheard. 

Bidhya is an agriculture graduate, who strives to make a positive impact on the field of agriculture through her study and research. She is also the recipient of ICIMOD and GRAPE project’s Embrace Equity Grant.  

Top stories from the region

Signup our newsletter for more interesting content from the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Related posts

3 May 2024
ICIMOD partners with the World Food Programme to strengthen food security in the mountains

With the impact of temperature rise on water availability set to compound already high levels of food insecurity in the region, ICIMOD has partnered with the World Food Programme (WFP) to protect vulnerable communities in the region.

Read More
30 April 2024
Energising Agriculture in the Hindu Kush Himalaya 

A tiny fraction of Nepal’s energy is used in agriculture. Harnessing renewables could be a game-changer for millions of farmers, writes Jan-Erik Studsrød, Counsellor for Energy and Climate at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Kathmandu.

Read More
22 April 2024
As Nepal’s air quality plummets, experts urge a focus on forest fires

With twice the number of forest fires recorded in the first two weeks of April versus the March total, air quality has plummeted and nature loss is rising. Data tools, training, early-warning, and the revival of traditional forest management practices offer a way to reduce the frequency and severity of forest fires.

Read More
16 April 2024
A quiet revolution in Badhu

On the majority-women-led farming coop reversing the fortunes of a district that has consistently ranked last in the human development and poverty index.

Read More
16 April 2024
The win-win of phasing out farming chemicals in Surkhet 

Farmer Laxmi Thapa worried that ditching chemical fertilisers and pesticides would hit her bottom-line. With the help of GRAPE, her input costs have dropped, while her yield, and health, have leapt.

Read More
29 February 2024
Failure to manage invasive species carries a possible price-tag of $423billion each year. What does this mean for the eight countries of the Hindu Kush Himalaya? 

Biological invasions are responsible for substantial biodiversity declines as well as high economic losses to society and monetary expenditures associated with the management of these invasions.

Read More
7 February 2024
Youth in agroecology: a new generation leverages climate resilience in agriculture

Farming requires perseverance and hard work at the best of times. Now with the effects of climate change firmly embedded in many places across the HKH region, farming communities need to become resilient to these impacts.

Read More
5 February 2024
Personal visit by Director-General of FAO signals new era in cooperation

The MOU commits both bodies to pool expertise, knowledge, innovation, technology and networks to strengthen food production and community resilience, food and nutrition security, and bring economic benefits to mountain communities. 

Read More
25 January 2024
Record low snowfall sounds alarm for water security in the Hindu Kush Himalaya

Mountain peaks in the Hindu Kush Himalaya (HKH) region – usually capped in a white blanket of snow in the winter – remain noticeably bare this year, particularly in the western Himalayas. This winter has been very unusual, with little or no snowfall throughout the region. Farmers are understandably concerned, as low snowfall has a direct and severe impact on agriculture. This is particularly acute for the HKH region which is heavily dependent on agriculture.

Read More
11 December 2023
Invest in tourism for greater climate resilience in mountain destinations: Tourism-climate change stocktake 2023

Chapter four of the Tourism Panel on Climate Change Stocktake report has a dedicated section that brings in the perspective of the HKH mountain destinations, where the strong need for an integrated assessment of climate risks to attract investment for climate resilient mountain tourism has been highlighted.

Read More
4 October 2023
A youth champion for climate-resilient agriculture in western Nepal

At a time when many young people are abandoning agriculture, young farmer Bindu Sahi inspires others to seek simple and innovative solutions to farming challenges.

Read More
15 September 2023
Cultivating change in a changing climate: Local farmers transforming agriculture in western Nepal

Drought, extreme weather events, and shifting pest and disease patterns are some of the challenges posed by a changing climate that affect farmers all over the HKH. One such farmer is Puna Rawat Bhandari, 31, from Dailekh District, in western Nepal, where she plays a vital role as a local resource person at the Community Learning Centre in Bhandaritol, Ward 4, Dullu Municipality.

Read More
1 September 2023
Turbocharging green start-ups in Nepal

Nepal's Entrepreneurship Framework is set to turbocharge green enterprises and shape a resilient, inclusive future.

Read More
1 September 2023
Pioneering Green Innovation and Resilience – Startup Nation 2030 

In the heart of Nepal, where economic challenges meet climate threats, a green revolution ignites at the Startup Nation 2030 Conference.

Read More
21 August 2023
World Water Week 2023: We must invest in natural solutions like spring revival for water security

Time to move away from a hard-engineering approach and embrace nature-based solutions for water security in hill and mountain communities

Read More
envelope linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram