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A BBC radio broadcast discusses forage production by Heifer International Nepal project members. Click on the link to hear the show in Nepalese, or read the English transcript below.
Transcript in English:
Woman 1: We stopped open grazing our livestock two years ago. Look – Wow! - We have 30 plants of Shrikhanda.
Narrator: The days of most women in rural Nepal begin with collecting firewood and fodder. They have no other alternative but to go far from the village to collect enough fodder for the cattle and goats that they keep at their homes. The women from Pyuthan district’s Dhungri and Belbas village also face these problems every day. Many women have been injured or have lost their lives after falling from steep cliffs and uneven surfaces while collecting fodder. But growing their own fodder closer to their homes has made things a little bit easier for them. Let’s hear this report that Netra K.C. filed from Pyuthan.
Reporter Netra K.C: Women who get up early in the morning and go far from their villages to collect fodder with a lunch of fire-roasted corn and flat bread reach home late, at noon or later. They don’t have much time after this to get anything but general housework done.
Woman 2: “You are just wasting time in these meetings [with Heifer’s self-help groups] while there’s no fodder for the livestock,” they [family members] always said to us.
Reporter Netra K.C: Once, Heifer International Nepal took them on an exposure visit to Chitwan.
Woman 1: There’s fodder everywhere in Chitwan whether you look here or there. So much fodder, I told Durga Sir that I would have married here but he laughed at me. (laughs)
Reporter Netra K.C: Even after returning from the visit, they could not forget the fodder there. So they decided to solve their own problem. They decided to plant improved fodder in the berms of their fields and fallow land like it had been done in Chitwan. Then every household started planting around their home and their fields.
Woman 1: After we returned we completely stopped open grazing. We stopped open grazing our livestock two years ago. Look – Wow! - We have 30 plants of Shrikhanda.
Reporter Netra K.C: In the beginning, many were critical of this technique. But when they saw that the women of those homes who planted their own fodder had stopped going far to collect fodder for their livestock they became convinced. They borrowed fodder saplings from their neighbors and started planting fodder themselves.
Woman 2: Our own sisters did not agree to go get fodder saplings earlier. “How much fodder can we plant? It’ll never be enough,” they said. But now we collect a basket full of fodder even during draught seasons from our own fodder plantations. There is greenery everywhere.
Reporter Netra K.C: Improved fodder plants like Napier, Mendola, Epil epil and Kembu can be seen everywhere in the berms of Bhindi and Belbas village. These fodders grow throughout the year and can be re-harvested. They have saved the women in the village a lot of verbal abuse and stress.
Woman 2: It was hard to attend trainings, group meetings and social activities because we could not do that and care for the house and livestock at the same time. We could not tell our husbands to go collect the fodder themselves and go to the trainings. We had to hear lots of complaints and got scolded. But now that we have fodder so close by, it’s easier for us to ask our husbands to feed the livestock if we can’t get to it on time.
Reporter Netra K.C: Not only are the livestock healthier due to the fodder grown around the house but children have also been able to attend school regularly because their mothers have more time to attend to them or ask them to help out with feeding the livestock.
Woman 1: When we used to be gone all morning to collect fodder, our children mostly cooked the morning meal themselves and went to school. Now we have time to give them a warm meal before they go to school and feed the animals.
Reporter Netra K.C: It was challenging to conserve the local community forest as villagers sneaked in to get the much-needed fodder for livestock. The fodder plantations have helped with the conservation process too.
Woman 2: No one sneaks in to collect fodder anymore. We have all we need right here.
Reporter Netra K.C: These women, whose lives were made easier by something learned in a visit, now ask other women to plant fodder around their farms too.
Woman 1: Everyone should plant fodder like we have. Stop open grazing completely. You will realize that the fodder you have grown will be enough for your livestock.
Reporter Netra K.C: Nowadays they feed their livestock with the fodder they have grown on their land. This way they have more time for other activities that generate income and awareness for their families and communities. Something as simple as planting their own fodder close by has given them an opportunity to do things that will result in a better life for them and their loved ones.