How do you convince a 68 year old farmer that there are things about farming which he does not know? Or, he is not doing it the right way?
No matter the age and experience, making someone accept new ways of doing things or adapting to a new way of living life is not an easy task. To go deeper into the issue, 'new' has always been scary, there is a different set of challenges and risks associated with anything 'new' that people are not aware of and prepared for, hence they will resist to it. It is a human nature and throughout history 'new' has always had a tough time in receiving acceptance from people used to a certain way of doing things or living lives. Anything 'new' has always had a rough beginning. Similar was the case for us during the initial phase of Small Agro-Farmers Income Improvement Project (SAFII). SAFII is a three year project aimed at increasing income from agriculture for small land-holding subsistence farmers from earthquake affected areas of Sindhupalchowk district. As mentioned earlier, the project was initially received with a lot of skepticism. Skepticism, not in the form of frowning faces or questions regarding the methods that we wanted to introduce. For most of us, Nepalis, saying 'NO' has always been a struggle, we just don't do it. Or, we do it our own way. The same was the case for us during the initial phase of this project. But there are few exceptions, while convincing most of our participants was such a struggle for us that it frustrates us till date when we look back at those days, there were few who believed in us and gave us their time and energy. Now, after 8 months of continuous efforts from our team especially the field team, our farmers are slowly opening up to the techniques that we want them to adopt. At present we are working with 20 farmer groups (FGs) with an average of 20 members per group who have committed themselves towards meeting the objective of this project. We would like to dedicate this post to our participants who have accepted us with open arms and laid their trust in our team. We would also like to thank our project team and other stakeholders for their continuous effort and 'never-say-never' attitude which helped us in changing the mindset of our participants.
The picture here is a reflection of our journey. As much as it motivates us, we are also aware that this is just a small step and there is a lot more to achieve in the days to come.