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Good practices of vegetable farming on riverbed

Kumari Devi Mukhiya in riverbed farm. Photo credit: FAO/Ramprabesh Chauhan, DTC in Siraha
08/06/2018Kalyanpur, Siraha - Kumari Devi Mukhiya, 38, is involved in riverbed vegetable farming at the river bank of Kamala River in Kalyanpur-2, Chatari, Siraha Nepal. The river bank was initially an arable land where farmers used to grow cereal crops and vegetables but the area turned into sandy riverbed due to floods in Kamala river. Climate change-induced floods and the encroachment of riverbeds are silting over arable land and increasing the area of sandy riverbeds in Terai region of Nepal. Flood has converted thousand hectares of cultivated land into river bank through siltation and sand deposition, creating serious threat to food security and increasing the vulnerability of rural poor to climate change. A FAO supported project, "Reducing vulnerability and increasing adaptive capacity to responds to the impact of climate change and variability for sustainable livelihood in agriculture sector in Nepal", is strengthening the capacity of rural farmers to cope with the impact of climate change by adopting climate change adaptive technologies. This project, funded by GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT FACILITY (GEF), has conducted year-round farmers’ field school where farmers learnt about stress tolerant crop varieties and other climate resilient technologies to sustainably cope with climate change.  Farmers were also trained on utilizing an under-exploited resource, i.e. river bed/bank of Kamala river, alongside capacity enhancement of production skills on marginal soils. Project has also supported farmers with seed, fertilizer, irrigation equipment, sprayer tank and a 50-liter plastic drum. Mukhiya is involved in learning adaptation technologies during sessions and field trials in field schools. For example, Direct Seeded Rice (DSR) was a great learning for her wherein she said that the rice transplanted in field trials was damaged by the devastating flood but the rice sown by DSR technology remained unaffected by the flood. For Mukhiya and her group members, growing vegetable on river bed was a new concept and thus, they initially lacked confidence. After the capacity building activities that built her confidence, she agreed to grow vegetables such as water melon, cucumber, pumpkin and bottle gourd on river bed/bank. She is happy with the result- she has harvested and sold about 250 Kg of Water Melon, Pumpkin and Bottle Gourd for about NPR 7000. Ramprabesh Chauhan, District Technical Coordinator(DTC) of the Project  saidshe hasn’t used any chemical pesticide on vegetables. Use of Jholmol (bio-fertilizer) was a new concept to her which was very beneficial as it reduced the cost of production and increased the yield and income. Jholmol is a type of slurry prepared by using cow dung, urine, water and medicinal plant's part. It works both as a growth promoter and insect repellent. Mukhiya says, "Since this is the first time I’m growing vegetables on river bed, I grew it in a small patch of land.  But the harvest and sale of vegetables has increased my confidence level. I am planning to grow vegetables in 3 Katha of river bed next year. I’d be be grateful if this project will support me with vegetable seeds and fertilizers."