To create an action research site in Madi, Chitwan whereby degraded river banks will be transformed into productive land by planting bamboo and other high value crops.
Madi lies inside the famous Royal Chitwan National Park, Nepal. People were encouraged to live in the valley in the middle of 20th century, so that they protect wild animals from migrating to India, which lies just south of the village. Most of them are hard working farmers who plant rice, wheat, mustard, corn etc., which are only for subsistence use. Farming depends on monsoon, which has been showing erratic patterns in the last few years, perhaps due to climate change. Many can not sustain livelihood by farming anymore, so men are migrating to Gulf Countries in search of alternative income. Despite Park’s beauty, it has ironically has become a curse to the villagers. Due to the Park regulation there are no electricity and paved road. They often have to face wrath of wild animals like elephants, rhinos, deer and even tigers, who destroy their crops and sometimes even take their lives. Although thousands of tourist come to the Park as it is considered one of the most beautiful in the world, the revenue rarely gets to the community. Tourists are co-opted by the local businessmen, and they rarely get to see the true life inside the park. If one looks beyond the post card image of Chitwan, one can see the real dynamics between the peasants and wild.
For the past few years, the weather has been showing erratic patterns. Drought is followed by heavy burst of rain, or there is prolonged drought, or delayed monsoon leaving farmer in the mercy of already unpredictable weather. Monsoon of 2010 was the worst as it completely inundated the entire village, for the first time in their life. It washed away fields close to the river or it deposited tons of silt and sand on the fertile farmland. What used to be 1 meter wide creek until a decade ago, now has become 30 meters wide river. Farming has become a risky enterprise and the farm land is slowly turning barren.
Effect of Recent Flood:
Bamboo and NTFP as Hope:
Incidentally in the last flood, people observed that all the area that had bamboo plants were survived while all the other areas were swept away by the flood. It was a living testimony that bamboo can work as ecological embankment. Hence, they approached us -as we had working with them in community promoting our works in promotion of bamboo and earth. They have asked for our assistance to plant bamboo along their farm for which they are willing to pay so that it helps to control further erosion. The fact that they are willing to pay, showed that they are really committed to the idea. To start with everyone will plant on their own initiative bamboo along the river banks and to avoid mono-crop they will plant lemongrass, sisal, ginger, chamomile etc., which will be sold to urban markets after adding value by producing essential oil, charcoal, bamboo furniture and prefabricated structures.
Our Collective Dream:
What Does The Village Want?
Villagers are looking for investors, partners not donors, which could be private individuals, I/NGOs, corporations etc. For example, villagers will plant bamboo they need investors to make bio-char. They will plant lemon grass, they need investor to make essential oil. They need investors to make pre-fabrication center, etc. It is a market driven initiative. Eventually, they have shown willingness to invest with in their limited capacity on processes to add values. For their investment we will however first have to build their trust that their hard earned rupees will bring return in future. If 100 families invest, they think most thing will be possible.
- Plant 5000 species of bamboo along the river bed, with a 10 year vision of planting A Million Bamboo from Terai to Himalayas.
- Intercrop with other high value crops like lemongrass, sisal, ginger, chamomile etc.
- Establish a nursery lab to propagate seedlings.
- Establish a small scale processing unit of bamboo to produce briquette, energy via gasification, furniture and housing component pre-fabrication center.
- Establish a processing center to process essential oil.
- Protected riverbank for 300 villagers
- Increased revenue through sale of bamboo (1 piece=Rs 100) to the local community as bamboo can be harvested every year.
- Employment provided to 50 households with production of furniture and housing components.
- Preservation of forest with use of bamboo briquette.
- Processing center to process essential oil.
- Trained villagers on plantation techniques.
- Trained villagers to process bamboo and other high value crops.
Timeline: 1.5 years