Magic mulch: growing vegetables in Nepal

Stories | June 25, 2024

Nepal is highly vulnerable to climate change and is already experiencing changes in temperature and rainfall at a faster rate than the global average. People living in poor communities feel the negative impact of climate change more intensely due to their reliance on the land. This is particularly true for people with disabilities who are amongst the most marginalised and vulnerable populations to climate-induced disasters.  
Since mid-2022, CBM Australia has been working with a local Organisation of People with Disabilities (OPD) partner to implement a project helping communities adapt farming approaches to climate change. 
Two people to benefit from this project are Bechan and his wife Khaikideri. Bechan has a physical disability, and, together with his wife, they make their living growing vegetables on a small plot of land. Usually, they don’t generally grow anything between April to June because the weather is too hot. However, this year they decided to grow okra to test a mulching technique which Bechan learned in a self-help group meeting supported by the CBM project. This turned out to be a good decision.  
With mulching, less water is needed, the soil temperature stays more stable, and pests are better controlled. Bechan is now picking okra three times a week! And, because it’s not the season for growing okra, market supply is low, and they’ve sold their okra at a high price, becoming the envy of their neighbours. 
Not only did Bechan learn about mulching through the self-help group, but he was also supported with seeds and plastic sheeting. He learnt about composting using cow dung, which is common in their area, and how to make bio-pesticide.   
Learning new farming techniques alongside what vegetable grow best in which season and what insects are harmful has helped Bechan and Khaikederi to diversify crops, making better use of their small plot. They can now adapt what and how they grow vegetables, increasing their resilient to the impact of climate change and continuing to earn an income. The income they get from growing okra this summer will be used to enrol his son in computer studies in June. The outcome has given his family hope.  
The Inclusive Climate Resilient Community Development in Nepal Project works in an area prone to flooding and drought. It has a strong focus on building the capacity of the partner OPD and people with disabilities through climate resilient approached and technologies. It also collaborates with local governments to ensure disability-inclusive climate action, disaster preparedness and response approaches.  

Bechan and his wife Khaikederi among their crop of okra which they successfully grew using mulch. 

CBM acknowledges the support of the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP).   

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