Nandi Lal is content with his life, but he has worked hard to get where he is today.
Thirty years ago he began farming a small area of inherited land (2.5 Kaththa; about 3500 sq ft). It was not sufficient to support his family and eventually he decided to move to Kathmandu. “I went to Kathmandu to earn money, leaving all of my family members behind,” he says.
After three years he had saved enough to return home. He bought one bigha land (about 12000 sq ft) and began to grow rice.
According to Nandi Lal though, Sripur is not a good place to farm rice as water has become scarce. One year there was a drought and all his crops were destroyed.
“There was no water even from the hand pump. I tried to carry water from the adjacent village also, but [that] didn’t work. I had never imagined that my land would be so badly hit by drought. There was nothing to eat. I failed in my responsibility to feed my family.”
Nandi Lal was not alone: all the farmers of Sripur faced this problem. The rainfall has decreased significantly in recent years. Today many farmers in Sripur have given up rice for another crop – and Nandi Lal has joined them.
“The drought made a big impact in my life. I left rice farming completely and started planting mangoes. Even for mangoes, water is required but not as much.”
It’s been four years since Nandi Lal began planting mangoes. He now earns ten times more than he did from rice production.
“To make the mango plant survive, I used to carry water in bucket and put around the root, especially in dry season. I am thankful to God that I can now earn 30 to 35,000 rupees per year. I could only earn 3,000 rupees from rice.”
Nandi Lal is very optimistic now about how he can adopt new methods to increase production. He is also trying to diversify his crops. “I have planted pulse and mustard in the same land where mango is growing.”
He adds: “It takes time for the villagers to be convinced. They didn’t believe that mangoes can give more profit compared to rice.” But after witnessing Nandi Lal’s success, villagers are following his example.
And Nandi Lal says it shouldn’t just be individuals who adapt to new ways of production: “If the government agencies like the District Agriculture Office supports us [by providing] irrigation [systems] and machinery, it would be very easy for us.” He’d also like to see electricity installed in his area to pump underground water to the surface.
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