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How Farming Kept a Family Together

According to the 2022 Nepal Labour Migration Report, foreign employment has become a major source of income for many Nepali households and with remittances making up almost 25% of Nepal’s GDP. Over 600,000 labour approvals were issued in 2022 and that number is expected to increase each year.

For Lal Sher Rai, 32 years old, his story was no different from the majority of the young, rural Nepali population for whom migration seems like the only option for better employment opportunities. Before joining WN’s program, he worked as daily wage laborer to support his two children and his wife who uses a wheelchair and runs a small snack shop. Their annual income was barely 150,000 rupees which was barely enough to buy food and cloth for a family of four. Lal Sher thought of migrating to a gulf country for better income and searched for a loan. No one trusted him as he did not have a property to mortgage.

While he was struggling to find loan to pursue foreign employment, he had an opportunity to participate in WN’s program through a savings and credit group. Lal Sher further narrates his story:

“The first training I received after joining the WN program was kitchen gardening. Although I had a tiny plot of land, I could grow varieties of vegetables through intercropping. Then I had a series of learning opportunities to enhance my knowledge and skills which I duly practiced.

I learned to prepare different kinds of organic fertilizers, nursery management, pesticide, and additional farming methods. I was a wage laborer and knew nothing about farming. But a series of well-organized and sequenced training boosted my confidence to take up vegetable farming on a commercial scale. I mustered up the courage and leased my neighbor’s land and tried my hand at commercial vegetable farming using a plastic tunnel and drip irrigation – both supported by the WN program. The regular follow up and technical support from WN reinstated hope in me to do even better and bigger.

However, my dream was shattered when my landlord told me he was selling the land I used for farming. The price was too high for me to buy that land. I realized that I must fully utilize all the energy and self confidence that the WN program gave me to start this profession. I was determined to buy that land. I promised myself that in two years’ time I would recover my investment from this land. Finally, I bought the land (3,561 sq m) for 200,000 rupees. I put all the skills and knowledge that I learned from the WN program into that land and also added livestock. I grew fodder grasses in all the wasted land around me to feed the livestock.

I earned 100,000 rupees from livestock and 150,000 rupees from cash crops (ginger, chili and other high value vegetables). Now, my income has reached 300,000 annually.

With the progress I’ve made, society sees me with respect. I was the same person whom people did not trust for a loan but now people approach me for a loan!

I was a person whose dreams of earning money through foreign employment got shattered – who accepted his reality as a daily wage worker. But I also had an opportunity to rise, beyond my imagination, as a farmer in my own community. My journey from wage labor to a farmer keeps motivating me. I tell youths in my village that with knowledge, skill and hard work, one can be self-reliant in a place where one is rooted.

I really feel fortunate to be part of this WN program as it is for the long term. WN supports grassroots people like us till we are independent and ensures that we learn properly through regular training, follow up visits and exposure visits.”