The shareholders of the Naretapar agricultural multipurpose cooperative at Korke Village in Surkhet, Nepal, have undertaken community farming for access to government loans to purchase farming equipment, seeds and manure with a subsidy and to attract funding agencies.

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The people who took the training in integrated pest management from Navjyoti Centre formed this cooperative with twenty-five shareholders in 2007. Since most of them are small landholding farmers, they pooled their cultivable land to reduce the cost of cultivation, improve access to irrigation and better income. The government helped them with soil testing. The farmers were successful in making a small pond and drainage for irrigation. They also laid 700 meters of irrigation pipes and got a power tiller for the community cultivation. Many individuals also made plastic tunnels to cultivate seasonal and out-of-season high-value vegetables. All these were possible with the generosity of many small national and international funding agencies.

As the shareholders save in the cooperative, they also take small loans from it to kick-start their own small income generating projects such as poultry farming, bee-keeping, cultivating vegetables around their homes and raising live-stocks.

The income of the families has increased due to the collective efforts of the farmers and the timely loans from the cooperative. Migration to India in search of work is reduced and most of the children are enrolled in regular schools. Every home has a toilet and the village is open defecation free. They also have access to water.

The best part of this collective effort is that men and women have become equal partners in the cooperative. Side-by-side, women, and men sit to plan and to make decisions for their cooperative which was not an accepted norm before in their village or society. And in this process, people have learned to respect and help each other to work towards a bright future for themselves and their children.

Sisters and the animators of Navjyoti gave the people the initial help to register the cooperative and training for keeping the books of accounts, reports and carrying out the audits. Navjyoti continues to support the group with training, periodic loans or any other assistance they require. The cooperative is fully owned and managed by the shareholders.

Malini Manjoly, SCN