FRB's new Nepal-Bhatigachha program seeks to respond to the widespread malnutrition and seasonal hunger among marginalized landless famlies in the Bhatigachha district, by developing sustainablel livelihoods through access to leased land, and training in agricultural production. It is envisioned that this will enable marginalized communities to break out of the cycle of hunger and labour exploitation and improve their families' nutritional status and income by farming for themselves, rather than for landlords.
By working through farmers' and mothers' groups, this project hopes to improve the food security and nutrition of these marginalized, landless farmers by enabling them to start vegetable farming, thus improving their diets and earning their own income, rather than relying on labour migration and daily wage labour to survive.
The project will lease farmland, and work through farmers' group to provide training and support for starting high-value vegetable crop production. Farmers will be encouraged to join a local cooperative where they can contribute savings throughout the project in order to take over the leases, or purchase land at the end of three years.
Bhatigachha is located 15 km from the second largest city in Nepal, ensuring high local demand for produce year-round. The agricultural technician staff from the local partner organization estimates that households can earn 60,000 rupees per year from selling vegetable crops. The cost of land in the area is 50,000 to 60,000 rupees for 1 Katta (about 338.63 m² or 3,645 sq.ft.). It is anticipated that by saving part of the harvest income each season, many households will be able to continue leasing or purchase land after the project is finished. For this reason, staff will regularly encourage groups to contribute savings to the cooperative throughout the project.
Mothers' groups will learn kitchen gardening to supplement their families' diets with nutritious food, and will also learn principles of nutrition, sanitation and family health.
The success of the project will be measured by tracking the food insecurity coping strategies (labour migration, household debt, food consumption) as well as by effects of food security on families, including the rate of under-5 child malnutrition and school enrollment rates.
FRB's Nepal-Bhatigachha program encompasses 470 households in 13 communities.