Bridging Farmers Hope with Agri-ambulance
During the lockdown in the western hills of Nepal, Heifer Nepal, Partner NGO REDA, Milansar Social Entrepreneurs Women’s Cooperative (SEWC), and Namikuwa Youth Group jointly initiated the Agri Ambulance service bringing much relief to the smallholder farmers of Tansen municipality. A pickup truck supported by Heifer to Milansar SEWC has been converted into the agri-ambulance and another vehicle was added to the mission transporting more than 10 tonnes of agri-produce in 7 days.
As the second wave of the Covid19 pandemic surged across the country, smallholder farmers feared in lack of market, their Agri-produce could perish like what happened during the previous year’s lockdown, threatening their livelihood. “We had planted the vegetables after the end of the first lockdown and by the time they were of marketable quality the second lockdown had already begun,” Gita Basyal of Tansen said.
The Heifer team, cooperative, and the volunteers are restlessly working to market the products as soon as possible to ensure that perishable goods are not lost. Mr. Santosh Kumal happily shares “almost 3 quintals of my vegetables already went bad, but I could salvage 2 quintals with the start of this ambulance service.” Similarly, Ms. Pushpa Shrestha with 9 quintals of vegetables was relieved after they were transported and sold via the agri-ambulance in a good state. Hari Bhandari from Tansen saved 4 quintals of beans and 5 quintals of cucumber with the agri-ambulance service”.
After the ambulance service began its operation, many farmers are selling their products receiving cash in hand, reassuring the cooperative’s responsiveness. The service not only saved the produce but also provided an additional 10-30% profit margin to the farmers avoiding middlemen while happy consumers received fresh and quality vegetables at almost 40 to 80 percent cheaper price.
The Chief of Tansen Municipality Mr. Ashok Kumar Shahi appreciated the initiative saying “Production was in an abundance, but marketing was lacking, while farmers, as well as consumers, were deprived. This service from Heifer and Cooperative revived the market. We are offering grants in the packaging and the transportation of the produce”.
Special mention and applaud to the volunteers of Namikuwa Youth club and the cooperative members who are fulling their social accountability and responsibilities gaining appreciation from the farmers as well as the consumers.