Phool Kumari Mahato, a resident of Kalhuwa Village of Nawalparasi District, struggled for long to start a commercial vegetable farming because of her lack of knowledge about professional farming. After taking part in an interaction with experts and farmers under Technical Knowledge Service run by Practical Action, Mahato learnt the way.
After learning from interactions, video shows and other information materials, Mahato, a widow, started commercial farming. Mahato made Rs. 50,000.00 (US dollar 550) last year. She has already made over Rs. 7,000.00 (80 dollars) worth of vegetables.
"I am planting cauliflower, cucumber and cabbage. The knowledge I gained through Practical Action changed my perception. I can go to the center whenever I face problems. We have got land and water but what we lacked was knowledge," said Mahato.
Mahato is one of many people getting such benefits. Durga Adhikari, from Ageuli Village of Nawalparasi, holds similar views. "What I came to realize is that lack of knowledge and information about our agriculture methods pushed us behind," said Durga Adhikari. "If we can acquire knowledge on what kind of diseases affects our plants and what methods we need to apply, it makes a lot of difference.”
The knowledge of potato farming has completely changed the pattern of agriculture in Deurali village of Nawalparasi. Till a few years ago, people living in the villages failed to get the benefits from vegetable farming. Practical Action's Practical Answer program showed that empowering the community through technical knowledge is key to bring changes in rural parts of Nepal. Building infrastructure and providing facilities are not enough.
"We have been planting vegetables for long. We did not know that we can even produce potato in our land," said Dil Bahadur Bhujel, a farmer. "We learnt a lot in methods by watching videos and interacting with people."
With the partnership of READ-Nepal, Practical Action is disseminating various information to the rural people through their Practical Answer programs. Currently READ-Nepal is implementing the programs through six community libraries and they are planning to work with 20 other community libraries in different districts.
Under the Practical Answers, Nepal's rural people are learning about farming systems, crop patterns health and use of pesticides and other basic information required by poor and vulnerable groups in rural areas.
"Our experiences have shown that sharing information and knowledge is important to bring the change in rural parts of Nepal. Rural Nepalese need basic information and knowledge about agriculture which can bring the change in the community," said Upendra M. Shrestha, Head of Program Funding and Communication, Practical Action.
According to the website of Practical Action, Practical Action has been using appropriate technology to help people in the developing world for more than four decades. “Within Practical Answers section of this site, you will find a knowledge bank of these technologies so that you can take them and replicate them. If you can’t find what you are looking for, you can ask a question through our technical enquiries service.”
Practical Answers is the Technical Information Service of Practical Action. It provides information on appropriate, small-scale technologies that improve the lives of people living in poverty. It allows people to access the wealth of technical knowledge within Practical Action as well as that of Practical Action partners and other people working on reducing poverty.
One of the aims of the Practical Answers program is to work across the globe helping to share and promote knowledge about appropriate technologies through its enquiry service and its extension activities.
At a time when Nepal's policymakers and government officials are looking for rural development methods to eradicate poverty, Practical Answers are a big help. Farmers like Mahato, Adhikary and Bhujel show the way that knowledge is power for transformation and upliftment.