2014 Nepal Story Image

Nepal: Seeds of change

Since she got training from an Oxfam partner, vegetable seed farmer Kalpana Oli no longer struggles to clothe her children, pay school fees, and put food on the table. It didn’t take much: we helped her farm smart and find a gap in the local market. She did the rest.
“I have a dream that my daughter will be a teacher and my son will become a doctor or lawyer – someone who can support and help my country.” Kalpana Oli, farmer, businesswoman and mother, Surkhet District, Nepal. Kalpana Oli, her two children and extended family live in Surkhet, one of the poorest districts in Nepal. She used to struggle to care for her family with her husband abroad looking for work. Yet despite this, she had big hopes for her children’s education and future. Her dream is now a step closer thanks to an Oxfam-backed project that is giving her, her family, and the wider community a huge lift.

Home-grown solutions

Thanks to our local knowledge we spotted a gap in the market – one with the potential to be life-changing for women like Kalpana living in remote rural communities. Seeds for crops are mostly imported meaning they’re very expensive, which makes it harder for local farmers to make a living. The solution – home-grown seeds.

Kalpana has joined Pavrita, a seed-growing co-operative partnered with Oxfam that supports women farmers to learn new skills and pool resources to grow their own high quality seed crops. It was the lift she needed to change her family’s future – for good.

“We learned about sustainable agriculture, making organic compost pits using household waste, and about how to plant and manage a nursery and harvest.

Year-round benefits, year on year

Kalpana and many other women are now reaping the year-round benefits of growing a well-planned mix of crops including peas, okra, lentils and white radishes. Annual sales have risen from just a few hundred kilograms to almost 40 tonnes.

The lift that Oxfam supporters have given her remote community has started a chain reaction, as the co-op has forged relationships with a major bank, national seed companies, and professional mentors. Women members can now get the finance and advice they need to get their businesses off the ground, and a guaranteed market for their seeds.