With no prior knowledge and experience in the field of agriculture, I joined aQysta 20 months back. Being born and brought up in the capital city of Nepal one thing I was sure of - I would not be working in the agriculture sector. I was not exposed to that side of the world. (And I am no exception. That’s how young people in the city are.) But that now that I am working in this sector, I am nothing but grateful towards aQysta for this new interest I have developed for farming and irrigation.
Last week, me along with two other members of aQysta Nepal, we visited Barsha pump users in Sindhuli, Dolkha, and Ramechhap districts in Nepal. We had a chance to interact with Mr. Arjun K.C, a farmer from Sindhuli, who is using the pump for three years now. It was good to see Barsha pump meeting his water requirements for the farm. “Barsha pump gives me hope. I can see my farm filled with greens all year round. I even use the water from your pump to feed my cattle”, said Mr. Kc, when asked about his experience with the Barsha Pump.
He has been storing the water lifted from the pump in an artificial plastic pond and have been using the water to feed his cattle. For his vegetable farm, he has been using the water directly from the pipe attached to the pump. “If you belong from a rural area and have the abundant water supply, you are naturally drawn towards farming. He is soon starting with fish farming as well.
Ms. Sita Shrestha’s farm is where I ended up next. She was using the pump to water the peas and green onions and was also sharing the water from the pump with the household next to her. They were using the water specifically for vegetable farming. While they produce enough to sell if they want to, they don’t consider farming as a first-degree source of income. “Nope, we haven’t sold our produced till date and we wish we don’t have to see that day. If we have abundant, we would rather share or give it for free instead”.
Agriculture is more of a tradition/culture to them rather than a profession; that they are into it because their ancestors did it and it wouldn’t be right for them not to do it. So, it is more of a time filler rather than a dedicated profession.
The next farmer I had a privilege talking to was Ms. Bhawani Puri, from whom I also learned that Barsha pump can help people in ways I couldn’t think of. “This house was constructed with the water lifted from your pump. And not only this but that and that and that one too", she pointed out few more houses in the neighborhood. Awestruck? I was too!
A massive earthquake hit Nepal 4 years back bringing most of the rural people’s houses to the ground, dismantling the livelihood of the rural areas. It was, then, Barsha Pump helped Shrestha and her community (4 more households) to reconstruct their houses by providing water hassle-free, without any cost and also met their daily water requirements till their situation got back to normal. They are happy that Barsha Pump stood their side when they need it the most; that they are capable of getting into other income-generating activities now because it was then Barsha Pump helped them build a roof over their head.
Long trip short, I interacted with around 16 farmers using Barsha pump and everyone had their own unique story, revolved around one major thing – the need for water. Not only for agriculture but for daily household purposes and many other activities. The thing farmers liked the most about the Barsha pump was ‘free, continuous water supply’.
While the need is abundantly clear, the willingness to invest in technologies for getting water is not as clear. “Are you facing a problem? Yes. Would you love to have the problem solved? Yes. Would you also invest in it? No. Why? Because that’s what government is for. Nepal is an agricultural country. The government must bring the solution to help us, farmers. This is the most common line of thinking that I observed.
This also made me realize that when working with the smallholder farmers, it is not enough for you to have a solution, it is equally important you find a way to make the solutions reach to the farmers. Working at aQysta, I continuously strive to bring the solutions to the ones who need them, and this is feeding my inner calling of helping people to whatever extent I can. Hopefully, this continues in the days to come as well.
I am Alisha Chhetri, Marketing & Communications officer at aQysta.