Self-investment in Social Service: Manju Basnet, A Volunteer in the Health Sector and a Vegetable Farmer

Manju Basnet, a Female Community Health Volunteer, and housemaker who resides in Khadkathok Ward no, 9 of the Melamchi Municipality, lives with her two sons and her husband. After the PIWAAI intervention at Melamchi, Manju’s everyday activities were no longer just restricted to housework and volunteer work; she also began engaging in vegetable cultivation, a new endeavor she had never considered. 

She became increasingly interested in vegetable gardening after joining the Tinchuli Farmers Group, which was established as part of the “Project for Improving Water Access and Agriculture Income.” As the farmer group’s chairperson now, she oversees the group, consisting of both male and female members. Manju has always supported commercial vegetable production in her group, along with monthly savings and loan options, with the goal of strengthening the social and economic spheres. She owns one plastic house supported by the project where she grows tomatoes and other seasonal and off-seasonal vegetables. She has witnessed an increase in production by using new technologies taught under the project such as plastic mulching in tomatoes and capsicum, 3-G cutting in cucurbits, application of micronutrients, use of FYM and cattle urine from improved shed, etc. She shared that she had earned Rs. 40,000 from plastic house tomatoes during the first year of its establishment, Rs. 15,000 from selling cauliflower, and Rs. 5,000 from selling capsicum. “I didn’t even imagine that I would be able to earn from vegetable farming like this, but when ISAP organization taught us this technology, my life, and my family’s life changed a lot,” says Manju.

She spends the money she makes from growing vegetables on educating her kids, buying seeds and other necessary agricultural inputs, and occasionally hiring help when more work is needed on the farm. Manju’s involvement goes beyond the farmers’ community. Additionally, she holds the position of vice-chair of the Market Planning Committee formed through the project as well, where she is accountable for the collection and marketization of the vegetables produced in the area from the collecting center established by the organization. 

With experience in engaging and influencing the community as a community health volunteer, Manju claims that the project’s training has additionally aided in boosting her self-confidence. It has also given her the power to spread important messages regarding social empowerment, especially advocating for women to engage in income-generating activities such as agriculture which helps to build a healthy lifestyle. 

“There are 20 members in my Tinchuli Farmer’s Group. They used to collect firewood, make food at home, and do household chores, but now everyone earns money by selling vegetables. This is all because of the PIWAAI project. It has been a boon for women like us,” says Manju.