|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 Nepal component of the "Inter-regional Project for Participatory Upland Conservation and Development", GCP/INT/542/ITA carries out pilot activities in the Bhusunde Khola watershed in Gorkha District in the Middle Hills of Nepal.
The development objective of the project is improved management of upland catchments through people's participation in all stages of the development process. The Department of Soil Conservation is the counterpart agency responsible for project implementation.
Major field activities of the project include:
Participatory planning - from planning and implementation to monitoring and evaluation, and re-planning of activities.
Conservation activities - gully control and landslide treatment, support to nursery establishment, conservation plantation, tree distribution (slightly subsidised by the project), and support to handing over of forests to the communities;
Small scale infrastructures - water source protection, trail improvement, and small scale hill irrigation;
Farming systems improvement - mainly training in technical subjects like compost making, livestock development, etc., but also distribution of partly subsidised fruit trees, fodder trees, grasses and leguminous cover crops;
Income-generating activities - livestock development, improved fruit trees and commercial vegetable farming are popular income-generating activities, especially among women's groups;
Training - in all aspects related to the above subjects, to natural resources management, and to local capacity building.
Development of tools and techniques - test of techniques like PRAs, participatory monitoring and evaluation, etc for participatory natural resources management.
The implementation of activities are through user groups. At the moment (March 1997) the project works with about 70 user groups, of which 35 are women's groups. By working in groups rather than as individuals the farmers are able to better cooperate and make best use of their skills and resources. They exchange views and ideas to choose best available options. Working together in a group also has social values like giving the women freedom to talk and be away from the house. Groups have more bargaining power than an individual. Most groups in the Bhusunde Khola have a saving scheme as part of their constitution giving them the freedom to start up new activities and take up loans without collaterals.
Goats play a very important role in the farming system in the Bhusunde Khola watershed. They are kept for security (savings), cash income from sales, and for social and cultural functions. The Bhusunde Khola is a food deficit area (only 20% of the farmers are food self-sufficient), and the earnings from selling goats can be used to buy grains in food deficit periods. (It is said that one family is able to buy enough grains to feed the family by selling four large goats per year).
Another important aspect is the social prestige that the goats gives. Especially the women feel that the improved goat production has given them acceptance and higher recognition in the community.
But why economic analysis?
In 1995 two women's groups requested genetically improved Jamunapari bucks; three groups are on a 'waiting list' to purchase an improved buck; two groups have just got new bucks.
With the increasing scarcity of land and manpower (due to seasonal migration and a higher percentage of children attending school) proper planning become more crucial. The improved goat keeping is one of the activities that comes up most often (especially among the women's groups) in the PRAs conducted in the area, and as the experience in the area with the improved bucks and how to exploit the growth potential of the crossbred offspring is limited, there is a felt need in the project to investigate the economic aspects of this popular activity.
Given our findings and the interest by the farmers in improved goat production we would expect the farmers to have an interest in participating in an economic analysis as it would be focused on their potentials and possibilities. As the farmers furthermore through their saving schemes are somewhat accustomed to evaluating monetary values, a participatory economic analysis or evaluation should be possible to a certain extent.
We are, however, fully aware of the problems in trying to use economic analyses in a subsistence economy - as for example when trying to put monetary value to factors that do not have easily assigned economic values (like time and fodder).