Agriculture is the main livelihood of most families in Sindhupalchowk, despite the many challenges. The hilly region means all the farmlands are terraced, making agriculture practice difficult, and one that yields comparatively little. Plowing these terraced lands by traditional means of oxen is possible but not cost-effective and physically challenging. Not everyone in the village owns an ox and when hired they can cost to up to Rs. 1,500 per day.
A mini-tiller is a blessing to all farmers. It is portable, user-friendly, and apt for terrace farm lands. Under ACT – II NPL-161 project’s “Mini-tillers support for land tilling” activity, ISARD facilitated the distribution of three mini-tillers to three farmers group. The farmers group is responsible for the maintenance of the tiller, who uses it, and for how much. The money is saved, available for when the tiller needs its regular maintenance, fuel or when they need to buy another tiller.
For Kalpana Tamang, a young mother, the tiller is a means to self-dependency and empowerment. With her husband on abroad employment in Malaysia for the past 2.5 years, Tamang is solely responsible to take care of her household, her 2 year old daughter, and 6 ropanis land. Via Patle Krishak Samuha (Farmers’ Group) in Patle, Dhuskun – 5, she recently had access to using a mini-tiller.
In a country where plowing the field is considered a man’s job, Tamang would never have previously thought of literally taking things into her own hands. Usually, she would hire external help and a pair of oxen to plow the land. It would take 4 days to get the land ready, and would cost her Rs. 6,000 in total. A mini-tiller means Tamang is breaking an age old taboo in her field. And while she is empowered, she is also saving time and money. With access to a mini-tiller she can plow the field in almost half the time and in less than half the money.