FRB’s Nepal-Bhatigachcha program responds to the widespread malnutrition and seasonal hunger among marginalized, landless residents in Bhatigachha. Though the area is the most fertile in the country, residents typically do not own land, and resort to day labor for their subsistence. The program supports access to leased land for farmers' and mothers' groups so they can farm vegetables for home consumption and income to help themselves out of the cycle of poverty. Here is one farmer’s story:
My name is Suraja. I have two sons and a daughter, all in their forties. I have lived with my sons and grandchildren since my husband died 20 years ago. We have a small house here in Bhatigachha which we built with borrowed money. Of course, we have to pay back our loan and interest and are finding it very difficult to clear our debts. My two sons and I work as daily wage laborers in the field. We don’t have any regular income, just what we can earn each day, and with this little amount of money it is difficult to fulfill the basic needs of the family, let alone pay back a loan.
Sometimes I regret borrowing the money to build the house, and wonder when we'll ever pay it back. My grandchildren are studying in the government school, but they are not getting proper food, clothes, or educational materials because we can't afford them.
But now, BIC Nepal has come to our community with a good vegetable farming program for the low-income, landless people in the community. They asked me if I would like to use a small plot of leased land, and to learn to farm it to produce vegetables. I was delighted to get the land to cultivate vegetables, since never in my life have I had my own land to produce food for my family. BIC Nepal provided vegetable farming training for me and others in the village. At present, I am farming vegetables which I hope to use for my family's consumption, and the excess I will sell in the market to earn income. I believe I'll be able to earn enough money to help support my family and continue to repay our loan.
All we used to know how to do to survive was work as day laborers, with no end in sight, but now we are equipped with new vegetable farming skills. I know that vegetable farming will enhance our diet and give my grandchildren the nutrition and energy they need for school, and that our income will help us pay for their books and clothing. I am very thankful that this program is allowing low-income, landless people like me and my family to imagine and look forward to a brighter future.
Nepal Bhatigachha encompasses 13 communities, 470 households, and 2350 individuals