Linking de facto but uncertified organic farmers to growing urban markets

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Discussion with the locals
bimala dahal

Himalaya Organic Garden, an integrated organic farm operating near Kathmandu, has been producing organic vegetables, salads and dairy products for more than six years. It has been growing its own products, designing its own brand, and selling its products in farmers markets, which have been established by the Himalaya Organic Garden itself. The practice of organic production is a boon to help maintain biodiversity as it is free of harmful chemical pesticides. Recently, with the support of Rare, the farm has reached out to the village of Jasrame in Arghakhachi, district in the western part of Nepal. For generations, the majority of farmers have been de facto organic producers. However, lacking certification and access to markets, they were so far not able to tap into the growing urban market for organic. By supporting the farmers in production, certification and establishing farmers markets in the nearby urban areas, Himalaya Organic Garden helps farmers fully utilize their potential.

Last update: 25 Sep 2020
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Contexto
Défis à relever
Land and Forest degradation
Loss of Biodiversity
Erosion
Ecosystem loss
Pollution (incl. eutrophication and litter)
Lack of access to long-term funding
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Lack of technical capacity
Lack of public and decision maker’s awareness
Lack of infrastructure

Transportation: Families in Jasrame farm on small plots, so the products are not in bulk. Moreover, all the vegetables, fruits and other crops are seasonal. In order to transport the valuable products to the marketplace, systems needs to be well coordinated.

 

Matching supply and demand: It is difficult to convince new customers of this new source of locally and organically grown food. Trust is not established easily. So, campaigning and advertising is required to assure them.

 

Competition in the market: The local market predominantly depends on Indian vegetables and fruits. The vendors keep the market in their grip, therefore, they don’t easily let local farmers offer  organic products as this is seen as threat.

 

Scale of implementation
Local
Subnational
National
Ecosystems
Agroforestry
Cropland
Orchard
Rangeland / Pasture
Tema
Access and benefit sharing
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Local actors
Agriculture
Ubicación
Arghakhanchi District, Lumbini, Nepal
South Asia
Procesar
Summary of the process

The building blocks are represent phases of the "From Our Farm to You" initiative. The first phase encourages the households to transition from de facto organic farming to commercial organic farming. Along with their regular crop and vegetable farming, they also start producing high-value crops. In the second phase, a team is formed to drive market expansion, catering to close-by urban areas as well as major cities. The team finds one and/or two suitable area/s to establish farmers markets, either in a public place or private grounds (hotel/restaurant/mall). The sub-metropolitan city mediates the two parties to run farmers market once and/or twice in a week. In the third phase, the team manages to collect, transport and sell the products in the farmers market, and also to the capital city.

Building Blocks
Establishing a value chain for remote smallholder farmers

Productive hilly land, surrounded by green forests (habitat of wild animals) and interested farmers to shift to commercial organic farming households are a boon to our initiative. The farming of the regular crops, fruits and vegetables such as maize, millet, buckwheat, cauliflower, tomato, turmeric, jackfruit, mango, etc. will be promoted to grow in volume. Also, some high value crops such as kiwi, avocado, chia seed and moringa shall be introduced in the second phase. These products will be directly linked to the closest city areas through farmers markets once and/or twice a week. Consequently, the direct connection of local farmers’ organic produces to the consumers via farmers markets will establish trust and a positive relationship.

Enabling factors

The support  provided by IFOAM - Organics International and Rare in the form of hands-on capacity trainings has motivated the community and increased interest in commercial organic farming. Linking these de facto organic farmers to markets will enable the shift into commercial organic farming, which will promote their income generation along with conserving their ecology.

Lesson learned

I see huge zeal in the community to uplift their status through commercial organic farming more along with conserving the biodiversity. Establishing personal connections and enabling interpersonal communication about organic through a variety of engaging tools such as songs, billboards, plays and religious texts has helped inspire the community.

Creating demand for organic products in domestic, urban developing markets

Locally grown organic vegetables and crops are a dire need to the consumers nowadays in urban areas. Making such products easily available via farmers market will lure more consumers to visit and buy the products. As a result, the increment of the consumers in the market creates more demand for the local, fresh and organic produces, which shall finally boost the farmers to gear up in the production of more vegetables, fruits, cereals and lentils.

 

Enabling factors
  • The growing popularity of consuming organic products in Nepal's urban areas

  • A growing interest in healthy "superfoods" such as Avocado and Moringa products

  • The Jasrame households' readiness to meet the demand in the nearby city along with the capital city

Lesson learned
  • The growth of healthy food consumers I experienced myself in our capital city, Kathmandu, along with the major urban areas of the country.

  • Through research based on "Knowledge, Attitude and Practice" surveys, I learned that the vast majority (over 95%) of small scale farmers is the intervention area where already de facto organic, but none had taken measures to obtain certification and link to urban markets

 

Capacity building for de facto but uncertified organic producers

Time and again, the producers will be trained about GAP(Good Agricultural Practice) and GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) along with motivational classes to go organic and practice every activity in group.

 

The practice of following a practical organic method is significant to the organic producers, this will minimise time and increase the produces, too. The training of planting, harvesting, packaging, branding, marketing, etc. (under GAP & GMP) will enhance the caliber of the farmers.

 

Enabling factors
  • My experience as rooftop gardening consultant, organic campaigner, trainer and organic farmer.

  • The enthusiasm shown by the Jasrame households following our initial trainings.

Lesson learned
  • The change I have seen in the trainees after I shared my ideas and mentored in organic farming, packaging and branding.

  • The reflection of knowledge dissemination by IFOAM - Organics International in Jasrame households.

Impacts

Organic farming supports us in three ways: socially, economically and environmentally.

 

Organic farming is a kind of traditional farming, in which no chemical pesticide is used. The traditional farming method supports a harmonious relationship with nature.  In all the processes from planting to harvesting, it requires human resources. Traditionally in Nepal, the field work was undertaken jointly. Farming together used to be a platform to exchange work forces, sorrows and happiness which ultimately supported social harmony. When this sort of farming is revived, it will re-establish harmony between community people.

 

Arghakhanchi district's ecologically gifted land has high potential of yielding. This is matched by high demand and capital in the nearby urban market. So, awareness raising, training and support in marketing  to the community will encourage all the households to grow higher value crops, such as avocado, kiwi, moringa and chia seeds. Thus, the households themselves become the producers and sellers of their own products in the markets, consequently it will help the community establish economically sound and resilient lifestyles.

 

Organic production along with the appropriate markets inspire the producers to keep going on the same track.

 

Beneficiaries

Under the motto of "From Our Farm to You",  more than 100 local and small scale farmers along with 500 indirect beneficiaries are helped by the initiative.

Sustainable Development Goals
SDG 1 – No poverty
SDG 2 – Zero hunger
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 5 – Gender equality
SDG 6 – Clean water and sanitation
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 11 – Sustainable cities and communities
SDG 12 – Responsible consumption and production
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Story
bimala dahal
Organic Farmer
bimala dahal

After I lost my mother due to lymphoma cancer in her brain, I started to research causes of cancer. The use of chemicals and pesticides in food appeared among the main reasons. I learnt that the vegetables we were consuming were grown with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Equally, I had realized that we were inviting some diseases through our food. We started venturing into different corners of Kathmandu valley in pursuit of organically grown vegetables. We found few and they were limited in number.  

 

After this frustrating search, I started to grow few organic vegetables and salads on my own rooftop. It encouraged me to grow more so that I could share with others who got interested in organic. By that time I had almost quit my previous small import business.

 

When I finally bought farm land , it was barren land, filled with grass at a new place, in an unfamiliar suburb. I vividly remember those days hard days: Monsoon season, rainy days, lack of money and ideas. My husband, as a teacher, only could support me in the afternoon as he had classes in the morning.

 

The internet was my school: Mostly I surfed to research huge and unfamiliar subject areas: Plantation, seedlings, harvesting and more.

 

Slowly my products grew and I had to start the hunt for markets: From department stores to mini organic marts. Later on I also ran my own outlet. Nowadays, the customers visit my farm to buy. Twice a week us organic farmers in Kathmandu have been running farmers’ market, where we sell salads, vegetables, dairy products, local eggs, cereals, lentils and more.

 

Also, I was offered an opportunity to provide services as consultant for rooftop farming in the downtown of Kathmandu among 25 different households.

 

At present, I am more involved in production of new varieties of herbs, salads, fruits and more. Also, I am developing my farm to serve as a learning center for the junior children and a research center for the higher level students. A couple of women groups have been formed in my suburb based on my initiative.

 

From a barren plot, my farm has turned into a vibrant venue to discuss, observe and innovate organic farming, livelihoods and sustainability.

 

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