Cover Image
close this bookCase Studies of People's Participation in Watershed Management in Asia (PWMTA, 1996)
close this folderA case study of people's participation in Begnastal and Rupatal (BTRT) watershed management in Nepal
close this folderResult and discussions
close this folderConsequences of the BTRT project
View the documentInvolvement of women, occupational castes and other minority groups
View the documentManagement of forests
View the documentManagement of private and community lands

Involvement of women, occupational castes and other minority groups

In order to ensure participation of all sections of the community and that they benefit from the project, the project aimed to increase the involvement of women, occupational castes, and minorities groups in sustainable management of human and natural resources of the area.

Since the main drive behind forming committees, was the villagers' need of forest products and since collecting fodder and fuelwood is largely women's tasks, local women were very active in forest management and therefore they were fully involved in the decision making process. The major factors facilitating women's participation in the committees were: clear prospect of benefit sharing, support from family leaders, and the small size of the community. Because women were encouraged to be active members, their participation in CDCCs was excellent, and in fact they formed 27 exclusive women's groups with a total of 750 members.

The project also aimed to increase the involvement of occupational castes such as blacksmiths, tailors, shoe makers, and other minority groups of the community.

The involvement of these occupational caste in the project activities was also encouraging. There are now eight exclusive CDCCs of occupational castes and one CDCC is exclusively Islamic.

The high incidence of women's participation in SCWM activities was a result of the following facts:

- village women trust the seven project-hired female motivators (one in each VDC), who in turn were dedicated to their work.

- project extension officer was a women and most villagers support her strongly.

- male population was away to India for casual work and women had to assume leadership roles.

- men were not against leadership of women.

- project extension services highly motivated local women.

- project activities such as drinking water and irrigation systems, and forest management were popular among women users.

- training provided by the project helped village women.

During 1990-94, about 300 women were trained in different fields such as forest management (66 women), citrus management, improved cooking stoves, beekeeping, and CDCC management (150 women). In addition, 200 women attended literacy classes.

Management of forests

The dependency of the people on forests for fodder, fuelwood and timber is well established. It has several socio-economic and cultural implications. Indigenous forest management practices generally ensure the protection of forests by controlling and/or restricting access to a forest and its products.

Indeed, in areas where the community organization is strong (homogenous communities), various traditional systems for controlling the extraction of forest products are in use. For example, some wards pay for forest guards. However, in the areas where more than one ward share a forest and strong united leadership is lacking, the community managed forests are not well protected.

Since people's participation is vital for the protection of the forest resources, various users' groups and conservation committees were formed for managing planted and natural forests. These groups are solely responsible for implementing forest management, conservation and utilization activities.

The BTRT Project initially did not focus on management of the natural forests, although it encouraged afforestation of common grazing lands and degraded lands. However, since the local people were reluctant to convert grazing land into forests because of the scarcity of land for grazing, the project reoriented its strategy to focus on the management of existing natural forests by handing over their management responsibility to me community or to users' groups.

Once the local people recognized that new plantations would not fulfil the demand for forest products until they reach maturity, they started managing existing natural forests as well.

Women CDCCs are very keen on managing the forests and have created a fund for protecting the forests. Each family contribute five rupees per month to the fund. In some cases, project-supported watchmen have been terminated and the money allocated for watchmen is deposited in the fund. The women's groups in Kalimati and Adhikari-Tole in Begnas VDC are strong and efficient at watching and patrolling the community forests and plantation areas.

Community forests

The project has mobilized the people to built stone walls along the perimeter of plantation areas.

The project has also trained nursery and plantation watchmen and users. It has identified the primary users of plantations and natural forests, and shifted the responsibility for protecting these forests to them. The project follows the following steps in handing over the responsibility for managing forests to the users:

- identifying forest users through field visits and with the assistance of local people and motivators,

- forming forest users' group committee (FUGC),

- identifying forests that are often used by the community,

- demarcating the forest area with sketches and description of forest resources,

- helping FUGCs to establish forest nurseries, and

- providing support for the preparation of operational plans.

In 1991, the first community forest was handed over to the community of Ward No. 1 Begnas VDC in Kaski District. The area of the forest is about 16.5 ha and 207 users manage and share its benefits. Since then, the BTRT Project has made remarkable progress in handing over planted and natural forests to the community. It helped forest users prepare operational plans for managing the forests and in many cases, users have already started collecting and sharing the benefits. In addition, people's awareness of the need to conserve natural forests has gradually increased.

Specifically, 28 operational plans covering a total area of 1,042 ha of natural forest and 36 operational plans for managing 320 ha of plantations have been prepared by local communities with the help of the project. It is believed that about 5,425 users are benefited from these forests.

Based on the area planted by each community, the project had provided financial support ranging from NRs. 500-1,000 (exchange rate: US$ 1 = NRs. 50 in Jan. 1995) for other community development activities. With this support the communities have initiated cardamom plantation in me community forests.

Management of private and community lands

Innovative agricultural practices

There is at least one innovative conservation farmers in each ward in the BTRT area. The improved farming practices they have adopted include:

- relay cropping of peas and maize, and inter-cropping of winter maize, peas and mung beans in finger millet,

- institutionalization of conservation extension farmers and demonstration farms,

- agro-forestry on homestead plots in the form of fruit, fodder, and legume crops,

- kitchen gardens and vegetables such as cow peas, beans, brinjal, okra, pepper, cauliflower, cabbage and radish,

- thirty farmers produce garlic and onions on a large-scale,

- fodder trees and grasses such as ficus, broom grass, nepier, and bamboos, are planted on terrace risers and on marginal lands (kharbari),

- planting coffee on terrace risers and marginal lands is increasingly popular. Banana, fodder and fruit trees are planted to shade the coffee plants,

- cardamom with other fruit and fodder trees, is planted on the terrace risers and marginal lands, and in natural forests,

- pear, peach and low chilling varieties of apple trees are planted in the high hills,

- some farmers have enough water to manage a fishpond,

- bio-gas plants are installed on some farms and the gas is used for cooking and for lighting their houses,

-mixed cropping, i.e. mixing maize with cow peas and soybeans, or potato with peas and radish, is practised on most farms,

- diversion channels are constructed to protect farms against overland flood erosion,

- it is now possible to grow more than one crop on bari and khet lands because of controlled grazing and stall feeding,

- fruit trees including pineapple, banana, guava, peaches, oranges and other citrus etc, are planted on terrace risers,

- Juthe Pokhari (kitchen waste water collection ponds) have been introduced in the corners of front yards of houses. The water collected is used for vegetables.

Management practices on individual farms

The layout of farms in the BTRT area is traditional. Crops such as vegetables that need intensive care are planted around the houses. Fruit trees are grown on south-facing slopes and are inter-cropped with pineapples. Fodder and fuel-wood are planted on farm boundaries. Shade-loving rhizomes and tuber crops are found behind the houses or on north facing slopes.

Farmers manage their land very well. Terrace slopes are in good condition and their slopes are within the prescribed limits.

An estimated 0.2 ha of farm land is needed to meet an individual's food requirements in hill areas. However, nearly 65% of the families in the BTRT area cultivate < 1 ha of land to support an average family size of 7-9 members (where as 1.2 ha of land is required to support this size of family). This data suggests that the farmers in the BTRT area are required to make a struggle for survival. To tell the story of the farmers' ingenuity in struggle for survival, three cases are illustrated below:

Bishnu Thapa's farm

The farming practices typical of the BTRT area are epitomized by the practices of Bishnu Thapa, a farmer in Hanspur VDC (Chhetri 1988).

Before the project intervened, Bishnu cultivated 0.95 ha of land to support his seven family members (40% of his land is khet and 60% is bari). He had a small fruit tree orchard on his bari land and additionally he grew maize inter-cropped with cow peas, followed by relay cropping of finger millet on these lands. On his khet land, he grew vegetables and paddy.

Bishnu is concerned with soil fertility, seed production, storage quality and adaptability of his farming practices. The land he bought eight years ago was infertile and denuded. Agricultural production was hardly enough to meet his requirements. Spending all his savings, he bought six buffaloes and started improving his farm by adding 4-5 tons of manure. He also used polyethylene pipes to irrigate his field. In the winter, he manured the farm by keeping his animals on a piece of fallow land for 2-3 months. Within two years, he observed improvements in soil fertility and crop production. Chemical fertilizer was used only when the farm yard manure was inadequate, especially for growing paddy and potato.

Bishnu maintained diversity on his farm by planting citrus, guava, pineapple, banana, mangos, fodder, and fuelwood trees. He also raised fish in paddy fields. Most of the crops he grew were local varieties because of their good taste and quality, and resistance to pests and disease. Bishnu had bad experiences with high-yielding varieties of seed, especially with maize and potato seeds.

For seven years, the BTRT Project and other agencies encouraged and supported Bishnu. Her is still working hard to sustain his family. He has only 0.85 ha of land (0.1 ha was lost to a landslide), and his family size with the addition of a daughter has increased to eight.

Bishnu and his family work hard to maintain soil fertility. Four buffaloes provide milk, draft power and manure, and in the winter they stay in fallow fields to provide manure in-situ. In turns, Bishnu feeds his buffaloes fodder from farm trees and crop residues. Crops that require high nitrogen content such as wheat and potato, are treated with chemical fertilizers.

The fodder, fuelwood and fruit trees on the bari land are several years old and will soon reap many benefits. On khet land, in addition to growing paddy and maize, Bishnu grows wheat, garlic, onion and peas. Because onion, garlic, and peas store well, Bishnu gets a good return from their cultivation.

On the edge of khet land, he has introduced mustard and cardamom and this year he has planted potatoes on one ropani (0.05 ha) land. Since, Bishnu's farm is near a forest, he gets plenty of fodder and water for irrigation. However, since monkeys like peas, peas must be grown close to his house and be closely and constantly guarded.

Over the seven years of collaboration with different agencies, Bishnu also learned the benefits of rotating crops and cultivating legumes. He has successfully cultivated high value cash crops and earned a net income of about NRs 2,900 by cultivating vegetables on 0.05 ha. The food requirements of Bishnu's family are met by conservation farming and by selling cash crops.

For these reasons, his farm has become a resource centre, as it is located along the main walking trail to Hansapur. Innovative farming practices are closely observed by farmers passing by the trail. A few other farmers have also introduced peas and garlic into their farming systems.

Chhabilal Bhurtel's farm

Chhabilal Bhurtel, aged 46 years, a conservation farmer at Bhurtelgoan, Majthana VDC, has about 0.5 ha of bari land farm in the village (gaon) and 0.25 ha of khet land in besi (flat low land). Ten years ago Chhabilal cultivated maize, finger millet, orange and banana trees on bari land and rice, wheat, potato and mustard on khet land. Agricultural production was enough to sustain his family of five members.

Over the past years Chhabilal has increased the intensity of his farming. Since his family size increased to ten, he had to try many innovations. He brought his own drinking water system from a source nearby and the project trained him in fruit cultivation and animal health. He has introduced coffee, broom grass, pineapple, guava, lime, cardamom, ginger, and vegetables such as peas, beans, yams, garlic, and onions, on his farm. He also cultivates rice variety Radha-6 in shady places.

Though he used indigenous methods of propagation, the banana trees were damaged by stem borer. In 1960's, his father advised him to substitute the diseased banana trees for yam plants and since then he has increased cultivation of yams. He built a small dry stone wall along the edge of a riser and filled the land with soil and animal manure. Now, he cultivates and harvests 10-15 Kg of yams every day for 100 days, starting in January.

Chhabilal has 75 orange trees, 369 banana trees, and 20-25 coffee plants. The banana trees yield 1 or 2 bunches every day all year round. Although, the oranges are damaged by hailstones, he still sells a significant amount. His coffee plants are too young to produce for the market, but he prepares instant coffee dust for home consumption. Before crop diversification, his annual earning was only about NRs. 7,000. However, by last year, his annual earning increased to NRs. 47,500. He sold NRs 4,000 of oranges, NRs. 2,000 of coffee, NRs. 4,000 of broom grass, NRs. 36,000 of banana, and NRs. 1,500 of pineapples. In addition, he sold two litres of milk every day. With this income, Chhabilal was able to afford to marry his two daughters and has impressed his neighbours to adopt some of his innovations.

In the near future Chhabilal wants to cultivate improved varieties of pepper and sweet potatoes. He also wants to receive training in beekeeping before he adopts this practice too.

Surya Prasad Adhikari's farm

Surya Prasad Adhikari is a leading farmer in Begnas VDC. Ten years ago, he had only 3 ropanis (0.15 ha) of bari land in Dandathar gaon (village) and another small piece of land near the Begnas lake. Surya had a wife and two children. He brought coffee plants from Gulmi and planted them under the shade of chilaune (Schima wallichii) trees. He cultivated maize, finger millet, fruit, and vegetables such as radish, potato, and cauliflower on the terraces. The chilaune provided protection against hailstones, and leaves as organic manure.

In 1985, Surya sold the land near the lake and purchased 8 ropanis (0.4 ha) of degraded community land in Deurali Danda near Dondathar gaon for NRs. 8,000. Water is very scarce in this area. He planted Koiralo (Bauhinia sp.), orange, and banana trees, pineapple and coffee plants, and nepier, sunhemp, and broom grasses. Initially, he applied the bones of dead animal as fertilizer. Later, he used hair mulching. He wanted to develop the area as a mixed tree orchard with zero tillage.

In 1985-86, the BTRT Project identified Surya as a conservation farmer and provided him training. Today he grows many species of fruit trees including orange, litchi, sweet orange, mango, mandrill, guava, jackfruit, banana, papaya, and coffee, and fodder trees such as chilaune (Schima wallichii), tuni (Cedrela toona), Melia sp., Koiralo (Bauhimia sps.), sunhemp (Crotalana juncea). Surya earns annually about NRs. 10,000 from selling oranges, NRs. 5,000 from coffee, NRs. 5,000 from pineapple and NRs. 5,000 from selling other fruits. His farm is an example of permaculture whose experiences he shares with other farmers and NGO's.

Surya was the first farmer in Begnas to cultivate coffee. He established a Coffee Association in 7 VDCs of the BTRT area to promote coffee cultivation, train farmers in coffee cultivation and to develop market facilities. Last year he invited the Coffee Company Ltd. of Butwal to the BTRT area. Surya and other farmers sold coffee to the company for NRs. 24/Kg.

In 1994, Surya bought 3 ropanis (0.15 ha) of land adjacent to his house for NRs 42,000. He is currently cultivating legumes such as beans, masyam (pulses) and vegetables. He now wants to develop a multi-story agro-forestry system. Though water is scarce, Surya aims to increase his yields on this land without applying chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Management of marginal lands

The increasing population pressure has compelled farmers to cultivate even the most fragile marginal lands even though this has caused heavy soil losses. The project has identified quality agricultural inputs and technical support services for those farmers who cultivate marginal land. All improved farming practices are implemented through a group of farmers. In fact, a prerequisite for receiving BTRT services and input is that farmers form a CDCC. Farmers were ready not only to pay for the fruit saplings themselves, but convince their neighbours to participate in the program so that there would be a large group fund.

The project has introduced agro-forestry to utilize marginal and erosion-prone land more efficiently. Fruit and fodder trees and cash and legume crops are the major species planted in agro-forestry plots.

A group of 5-15 farmers are involved in the agro-forestry program. The size of land on an average is about one ha. About 2,900 households in BTRT area are involved in marginal land agro-forestry program and cultivated a total of 44 ha. In the Syangkhudi sub-watershed area there are three major agro-forestry plots. The agro-forestry plot in Ardha is very popular and is much appreciated by visitors. Seeing that the 9,000 fruit trees have started to bear fruit and that other cash crops are also very productive, other villagers have replicated the agro-forestry activities.

A case history of Hariprasad Banstola and his community

In 1992, Hariprasad Banstola attended a week-long training course on conservation farming practices on low productive marginal lands. Encouraged by the BTRT Project, he motivated eight other farmers to adopt the marginal laud agro-forestry program. At the end of June 1992, the group started the program on 3 ha of marginal lands. The project provided seedlings at subsidized rates and assisted in establishing an irrigation system.

Hariprasad has one ha of marginal land on which he used to produce about 70 Kg of millet. After getting a bank loan of NRs. 11,000 to start his agro-forestry project, he planted an additional 769 fruit trees and 524 fodder trees. The major fruit trees are banana (40 Nos.), coffee (54), orange (84), and pineapple (150). The banana and pineapple started bearing fruit within 17 months. He also grew other seasonal crops and planted broom grass along risers.

Last year Hariprasad sold NRs. 2,400 of bananas. This year, by selling bananas, pineapples, and vegetables e.g. radish and cauliflower he earned about NRs 7,000. The sale of bananas accounted for NRs. 5,000. Since his income is increasing every year. Hariprasad is confident that he can pay back the bank loan in the next two years. He also hopes that he will be able to buy four milking buffalos within the next four years.

Water resource management

Although the Kaski district receives a large amount of rain during the rainy season, it dries up immediately. To conserve water, farmers constructed 35 reservoirs near the village. The water harvesting ponds were generally constructed on community land by the community with project support, although some were constructed privately for either religious purpose or private use. The water thus collected is used for watering livestock and for house construction tasks.

Spring water is also collected in water pits known as kuwa (shallow wells). The project has improved 50 water supply systems and renovated 67 kuwas.

In many cases foot trails are used as seasonal irrigation channels to irrigate higher terraces. The project has installed and improved about 55 (command area of 510 ha with 2010 house holds) such irrigation systems. Waste water from farms which is diverted to foot trails for disposal, scours trails and results in inconvenience to walkers and development of gullies. Assisting the local people in controlling these gullies and landslides, the project treated 35 (with 1520 house holds) gullies and landslides and controlled 12 torrents.

With the project support, farmers paved several trails in the BTRT area using indigenous techniques in order to reduce erosion. About 40 km of foot trails were improved.