Farmer Tej Maya Gurung Jhooma, a resident of Mabu, Ilam, is playing a vital role in changing the way people cultivate large cardamom and ginger in the region by providing training to women farmers. This was possible after Jhooma participated in a training of trainers (TOT) programme organised by one of the partners of the Sahaj programme.
She became an active member of the financial institution Laxmi Laghubitta Bittiya Sansthan, which even formed a farmers’ group under her leadership including other members of the microfinancing organisation.
Around a year later, Jhooma participated in a training of trainers (ToT) programme organised by Laxmi Laghubitta where different agricultural experts explained the various aspects of cardamom and ginger farming: “It was one of a kind and helped me understand a lot about cardamom and ginger varieties, their plantation and pests and diseases management among others,” she said. As a farmer, she had basic knowledge about these things, but the ToT gave her deeper insights and knowledge about the solutions, too.
Soon after the ToT, Jhooma started providing training to the members of the farmers’ group formed under her leadership and reached out to four other such groups where most of the members are women. As of now, she has completed four different training sessions where more than 40 women farmers have participated. While the training sessions have become a way for farmers to get their cultivation skills improved, the fees paid by the microfinance has been a source of extra income for Jhooma.
Jhooma’s usual class starts with asking the name of the participants followed by informative sessions related to the plantation as well as post-harvest techniques of the crops. She also conducts group discussions and gets the participants involved in brain-storming sessions aimed at solving problems.
For example, in one of the trainings, there was a session where participants discussed about the appropriate time to apply manure on the field for ginger plantation. Although participants differed in the beginning, they agreed over the time (45 days before the plantation) mentioned in the training manual prepared by the microfinance at the end of the discussion. Similarly, other brainstorming sessions included a number of times weeding and hoeing was done by them where varied answers were collected but the standard time as per the manual showed the ideal timing
According to Januka Baral, one of the participants of the training session, the training provided by Jhooma was very helpful in the identification and management of various pests. “Thanks to the training, the early-stage crop loss has been reduced significantly,” she said. Likewise, Geeta Rai, another farmer trained by Jhooma said the training on post-harvest technique helped her acquire skills to grade ginger before selling. “Good grade ginger is fetching a higher price,” said Rai. “Earlier, we were just concerned about selling all the ginger. Now, as we know better grade can receive a better price, we started giving some extra time to grade ginger and it has increased our income.
Jhooma’s popularity as a trainer has increased and many farmers are seeking her services. She also recognised that the ToT by Laxmi Laghubitta has honed her leadership skills along with receiving tangible benefits like income from fees.
Sahaj signed an agreement with Laxmi Laghubitta Bittiya Sanstha Limited on 3 April 2019. As per the agreement, Laxmi Laghubitta provided training of trainers (ToT) to its staff as well as lead farmers like Jhooma who will then equip the microfinance’s women borrowers with agricultural and financial training.
Sahaj is a joint initiative of the Government of Nepal and the Government of Switzerland. It is mandated by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and is jointly implemented by Swisscontact and Center for Environment and Agriculture Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED).