|Inter-Regional project for participatory upland conservation and development (Field Document 6/97) - NEPAL - A framework for a participatory economic evaluation of improved goat production by women groups in the Bhusunde Khola watershed (1997)|
The Bhusunde Khola watershed covers a densely populated area of 3,200 ha, with an estimated population of about 12,000 people. Households are clustered in small hamlets, widely scattered with upland fields, forests and grazing land in between. Most households are subsistence farmers. The dominant ethnic groups are the high caste Brahmins and Chhetris.
The topography of the Bhusunde Khola watershed is steep, with approximately 70% of the area having slopes steeper than 30%. The altitude is between 500 and 1,700 m. Annual rainfall is about 1,900 mm.
The farming system:
Nearly all households are concerned with subsistence agriculture, but only about 20% of the fanners are food self-sufficient; the rest is suffering from 3 to 9 months of food deficits. The average landholding per family is less than 1 ha, with less than 0.2 ha arable land per person.
The farming system is a fairly integrated cropping system. The major crops are paddy, maize, mustard, upland rice, wheat, millet, potatoes, and soya beans (mainly grown on the edges of the paddy fields). Trees are grown on the borders and terrace risers. The preferred fruit trees are oranges, mango, guava, jack fruit and pomelo. Pineapple, banana and papaya are widely cultivated close to the house. Most farmers have their own kitchengarden, covering the daily needs for vegetables like cauliflower, Chinese radish, onion, garlic, gourds, pumpkins, and coriander. In areas with adequate water supply some user groups (primarily women's groups) have started commercial vegetable production, mainly in the dry season, where they have some labour surplus.
Animal husbandry plays an important role in the farming system. The average number of livestock per household is about eight (Mori, 1995). During the last few decades the overall number of livestock has been decreasing and the trend has been towards stall feeding, mainly due to scarcity of grazing areas, and the higher number of children (traditionally the herders of the livestock) attending school. An average family has a pair of oxen (for ploughing), a cow (for religious reasons), one or two buffaloes (for meat, milk and ghee (a kind of butter)), and two to four goats (for savings, and cash-in-hand from sale of meat). Most households also keep chicken (for meat and cash), while pigs (for meat and cash) are raised only by the Kumal and Baram castes (Singh, 1996).