Ever since Heifer International began operating in Nepal in 1997, supporting local farmers to improve food security and reduce poverty has been the beating heart of our work there.
What started as an effort to introduce high-yield livestock breeds to the native animal population, evolved into helping smallholder farmers build sustainable value chains and profitable livelihoods, to grow nutritious food and earn the income required to lead lives of dignity.
And on Sept. 15, Heifer Nepal celebrated 25 years of working toward these goals.
For a quarter of a century, Heifer Nepal has supported farmers with knowledge and training to strengthen goat, vegetable, poultry and dairy value chains, promoting environmentally friendly farming and improving access to affordable agricultural inputs and services. Core to this work is the formation of farmers’ groups and farmer-led cooperatives, which help producers access organized markets and finance, and increase resilience among food-producing communities.
To date, Heifer has supported over 314,000 families, organized in more than 12,500 self-help groups and collectivized under 255 agricultural cooperatives — all working under the Social Entrepreneur Women Alliance (SEWA), an apex governing body led by progressive women farmers. The governing body is dedicated to improving the livelihoods of women and smallholder farmers by strengthening the technical, governance and financial management skills of social entrepreneurs.
In 25 years, Heifer Nepal, SEWA and hundreds of thousands of women participants have partnered across 43 districts to lay the foundation for impactful, long-lasting development. Heifer has also invested in building infrastructure in the form of nearly 638 collection centers and supporting co-ops to acquire over 109 vehicles to transport their produce to market.
As a result of this work, hundreds of thousands of families have more food on the table, women are stepping into leadership roles and earning greater incomes, and farmers are expanding their rural economies on a national scale.
To honor these achievements and the women leading this transformation, Heifer Nepal and SEWA held an event, Mahila Samajik Uddhami Utsav or Celebration of Women Social Entrepreneurs, in Lumbini, Nepal.
Heifer celebrated this success alongside representatives from the Nepal government, representatives from Heifer’s headquarters, members of SEWA and over 4,500 women social entrepreneurs.
The seed that was sown 25 years ago has grown and is bearing fruit. But, the work — and growth — continues. We have only just begun.