It’s a matter of great honor for me to participate in “Student-Farmer Interaction: On-site mentoring program” organized by YPARD Nepal from September 12-17, 2017 at Bajrabarahi of Makwanpur, Nepal.
I’d like to express my deep sense of gratitude to YPARD Nepal and its collaborative partners for providing me with this opportunity. I’d like to acknowledge Dinesh Panday, Deepak Ghimire, Anil Banstola and Naresh Acharya (District Agriculture Cooperative Federation, Makwanpur) for their valuable guidance, constant support, encouragement and supervision during the entire five days of onsite mentoring program. I am also deeply indebted to Dhurba K.C. (Manager at Sana Kisan Krishi Sahakari Sanstha Limited, Bajrabarahi) for managing the hospitable environment for our stay at that very new place.
I, along with Rajesh Kunwar from Tribhuvan University, Institute of Agriculture and Animal Science (Prithu College, Dang) participated in the mentoring program. Here is the experience from the mentoring program at Bajrabarahi, Makwanpur:
Day to day activities undertaken
On the first day, we held an informal gathering of local farmers and informed them about the objective of our mentorship program. During the field visit, we engaged farmers in topics like climate-smart-agriculture, geographical condition, soil fertility, irrigation, use of fertilizers, crops grown in the area, animal husbandry, impact of agricultural activities on livelihood, marketing channel and facilities, constraints for overall agricultural development. We focused on understanding the general situation of Bajrabarahi.
The second day kicked-off with a more detailed interaction with farmers asking them about the current challenges they are facing, before visiting an agricultural cooperative which provided a good insight of their organizational structures, principles, working areas, programs being carried out by them, cash flow mechanism, etc.
On the third day, we visited the collection centers and markets, to learn about the post-harvest handling practices and marketing system. We also visited a high technological farm established there and learned about the adoption of technology, impacts of technology with their adoption on production and livelihood.
On the fourth day, there was a training session based on the urgent need identified by farmers. The training focused on insect pest management and adaptation strategies with changing climate.
The final day of mentorship program ended with a summary all activities and achievements based on our experiences. Finally we wrapped up with some hopeful conclusions and enthusiasm that Bajrabarahi will certainly be one of the best commercial agricultural centers of Nepal.
Two-way learning and exchange of information
We often underestimate the fact that a good farmer is a craftsman of the highest order, a genuine artist and have the real power to utilize the power in their lands. During our entire five days mentoring, we learned a lot from local farmers and came to know much about practical field knowledge. The ultimate goal of farming is not the growing of crops, but how this activity affects the livelihood of people. We all know that fertile soil alone is not guaranty for the perfect agricultural condition since there are other factors involved in the entire market system.
From policymakers to smallholder farmers to young professionals to agribusiness entrepreneurs, everyone should work together to uplift the agricultural sector in Nepal. To achieve this, a little support from each background will go a long way for the country.
The farmers who succeeded are the ones incorporating new technologies.
Now equipped with the current situation and listening to the farmers, we came to a conclusion that we can make use of various tools developed in the field of Information technology to boost agriculture. Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in agriculture offers a wide range of solutions to most agricultural challenges. Relating to this matter, we talked about various mobile applications and software developed in Nepal that was introduced into the agricultural sector.
While visiting co-operatives and collection centers, we studied about marketing channels and post-harvest techniques being applied, which were basically manual. With the objective of solving their minor problems, we discussed on making trial experiment of software SUKMEL, a cloud-based production control system solution that can improve efficiency and productivity of farmers. A visit to Bajrabarahi season of vegetables can be a beauty to lure tourist and one of the emerging destination for commercialization of fruits like Kiwi and olive are the fine examples to signify its scope.
"Supporting the youth to be the masters of their own destiny" is the main theme that global communities like YPARD is working to achieve especially within the agricultural space.
When I opted to join this mentoring program ‘Student -farmers Interaction’, I had no idea of what I was getting myself into. Before this, I had not been a part of a structured mentorship program and I was thrilled to be a part of this on-site mentorship. Previously, I had seen how mentored people excel but had never experienced it. This experience so far for me has been amazing that I came to know much about the agricultural scenario and developed an idea of planning and exploring from the known to the unknown.
It is not surprising that in this contemporary period, there are youth delegates convinced about need and role of youth, especially those with good education in agri-food system, food security and sustainable agriculture. The most challenging thing is finding agriculture as a promising sector to invest in.
From this visit and experience, I am very convinced that there is a need for developing a holistic movement of young agripreneurs like us to mobilize others on how to start small, learn by doing and grow big. I have learned to be assertive and to effectively communicate my dreams. I have learned how to engage and manage my social networks through the lessons learned during the stay at Bajrabarahi.
I am still looking forward to seeing more youth getting into this fast-growing sector with more creativity and innovations to transform the way agriculture is been perceived presently.
Picture credit: Bishal Mahatara