Campaigning for nature-friendly agriculture in Nepal – A youth perspective

Every human activity including agriculture should ensure no harm to mother nature.

Campaigning for Conservation (C4C) was organized with the theme; “Farming for Bio-diversity” at hotel Gautam Buddha, Kapilvastu Nepal on 8th June 2018. It was a twelve days workshop which was jointly organized by National Disaster Risk Reduction Centre (NDRC), IFOAM ORGANIC INTERNATIONAL and  Rare with the support of Federal Ministry for Environment Nature Conservation Building and Nuclear Safety, Germany.

There were twenty-seven campaigners that participated from across the country Nepal. It was a privilege that I was one of them to represent YPARD Nepal. It was my first experience, participating in a training workshop with so long duration but I actively participated in every daily activity. So, it didn’t take many days for me as well as YPARD Nepal to be recognized and become familiar with all.

During the workshop, I got to know more about NDRC and its activities particularly in Kapilvastu and Arghakhanchi districts of Nepal through the short introductory speech of Mr. Madhu Sudhan Gautam, the coordinator of the workshop. He mentioned that NDRC had been working on climate change issues related to agriculture and biodiversity particularly in those two districts since few years and this workshop was also a part of their project.  The theme of the workshop was “The theory and practice of changing smallholder farmers’ behavior and fostering community support for the adoption of climate-resilient zero tillage agricultural practices”.

The first day kicked off with the formal inauguration of the training by Mr. Narayan Prasad Khanal, Chairperson, District Coordination Committee (DCC), Kapilvastu District with his welcome speech. During his speech, he mentioned the significance of such training to improve the socio-economic condition of the people of Kapilvastu and other neighboring districts. Ms. Kate Mannle, Director of C4C RARE, facilitated the training throughout the workshop. During the session of IFOAM organic training on day 8 & 9, Mr. Konrad Huptfleisch, Head of Capacity Development, IFOAM highlighted the importance and other aspects of organic farming. He co-related its significance from the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) basis and presented the scenario of organic production in different countries of the world through various statistical data.

The key lesson of the workshop were social marketing and change in behavior, understanding socioeconomic and environmental threats and other drivers, RARE’s theory of change, qualitative and quantitative research, data collection, in-depth interview & KAP’s survey, data analysis, audience segmentation setting, messaging, material design, organic agriculture production, markets and value chain support system, guarantee and policy and many more.

Being an undergraduate student, I strongly believe that this knowledge will be of much help in the course of my career in the nearest future. Another thing that made me feel happy was that some of the participants and representative from foreign countries were already familiar with YPARD. At that moment, I felt proud representing of YPARD Nepal in that workshop.

There was an intense theoretical course, but the practice was full of educational entertainment also referred to as “edutainment”. It was fun designing campaign-related materials like billboard, posters, puppets, composing songs, etc.  We too had field visits to different sites of Arghakhanchi district of Nepal, particularly Dhotae and Jasrame village. We met the innovative farmers doing a tremendous job there. The objective of the field visit was to know and learn about zero tillage and organic agricultural practices in respective villages. Daily newsletter and blogs with detail activities of the workshop are included in farming for biodiversity.

I presented a blog of activities on the third day and my poster design and concept had been selected as final one from participants and later on artist finalized his art based on the very concept of mine for the billboard. I got many words of appreciation from different personalities. This was a sort of on-sight personal achievement. It was really a great opportunity for me to explore my knowledge. Being an undergraduate student, it was really a great platform to learn new things and skills that are not included in the curriculum but are of huge significance in my career.

In conclusion, this training encouraged me as well as other biodiversity campaigners to contribute at least something to bring some positive changes in our society. I strongly believe that the training will turn out to be a milestone to bring positive change in youth like us towards sustainable organic agriculture. It could certainly change the perception of youth towards the significance of conservation of nature and natural resources and agriculture.

It will make us capable enough to tackle different community-based problems and will enable us to conduct any social or technical research in the future. Overall the training was much fruitful with lots of excitement.

I am very thankful to Mr. Abhishek Khadka, Country Representative, YPARD Nepal, Michelle Kovacevic, YPARD Mentoring coordinator and Mr. Madhu Sudhan Gautam, Program Director, NDRC Nepal for their entire support and guidance.

Originally written by Subash Belbase for the YPARD Blog

Photo credit: Subash Belbase