AGROECOLOGY & ENVIRONMENT

VEGETABLE GARDENING IN COLD CLIMATE GREENHOUSES FOR WOMEN OF SAMAGAUN

 

 

BACKGROUND

 

The Samagaun village represents a traditionally Himalayan agro-pastoral community of Tibetan descent. The harsh climate of the region (the temperature goes down as low as -20 degrees Celsius in the winter) entails that only three crops (wheat, barley and potato) can grow once a year between April to August.  As a result, the community faces the problem of food insecurity and depends on other villages to buy vegetables and basic supplies at a high price.

 

Over the last 20 years, globalization and climate change have critically impacted the community, which is witnessing today a massive male and children outmigration from the village in search of economic opportunity and better education. The phenomenon of outmigration has brought the traditional livelihood system almost to the verge of disappearance, hitting the women hard, who are left behind in the village and burdened to perform the usual household chores as well as to earn to make livelihood. As remittances sent by the men working abroad is used within the first 6 months, the women are forced to work from 14 to 19 hours a day and 7 day a week with little or no extra income. Shrunken family income has further pushed the elderly and the women far below the line of existing vulnerability.

 

Most recently, the impacts of Covid-19 pandemic and prolonged lockdown and roadblocks imposed to control the spread of the virus, has stripped off the hopes of livelihood of those who were already vulnerable to multiple risks including climate and facing acute food shortages and income insecurity.

 

 

OBJECTIVES

 

The project will implement an innovative and proven technology of greenhouse farming to produce vegetables under the harsh cold climatic conditions of Samagaun. The technology uses poly-house tunnel farming, which has been found useful in Humla district (North West Nepal) under similar climatic conditions. The project intends to mobilize the local women group for which 10 women will be selected based on their interest and commitments to grow vegetables. The women group will be trained on the techniques of vegetable farming, maintenance of greenhouse, distribution of vegetables to households directly participating in the project and selling the surplus to the nearby market. The women will be educated on child and maternal health, hygiene and nutrition also be oriented on cooking techniques considering the nutrition value of food. The women group will be further trained on vegetable processing and sale of surplus vegetables in the local market of Samagaun village to earn some cash income which will promote their economic empowerment.

 

The beneficiary households organized into mothers’ groups (Aama Samuha) will be educated on child and maternal health, hygiene and nutrition and will be supported to maintain health and hygiene of children and women.

 

 

 VEGETABLE GARDENING IN COLD-CLIMATE GREENHOUSES

 

The proposed model of greenhouse is cold climate greenhouse designed by NGO R.I.D.S Nepal and tested in Humla district having similar climatic conditions. The model once introduced in Humla during 1990s was widely replicated by the villagers across the district. The greenhouse, with an area of 4m wide x 6m long, is constructed of 80% of local materials, and made up of 45cm thick stone walls, and wooden beams to support the roof. In Humla model, 200-micron polypropylene plastic was used as roofing material. An innovation is proposed in the roofing material, and in place of polypropylene, polycarbonate corrugated plastic panels are proposed, which has benefits of providing optimum insulation to control heat loss and increased durability. The polycarbonate corrugated plastic panels installed at 40 degrees slope facing the sun can keep the snow off in the winter and allow maximum sunlight to enter the greenhouse. 

 

The innovation in design of a greenhouse and the choice of materials to construct a greenhouse plays an important role in ensuring its efficiency and effectiveness. The mud masonry stone-walls not only support the structure of the greenhouse but also provide insulating effect. Both the polycarbonate panels and mud-masonry stone walls keep the warmth inside at night and during the cold season, while cools the greenhouse when it is hot outside. Use of this technology extends the prevailing growing season from 4 to 7 months. Wooden doors and shutters are installed to keep warmth at night, and chicken wire doors and windows keep the air flowing within the greenhouse during daytime. The greenhouses if constructed at the back of a house, sharing the house wall, enables to save construction costs and time, and adds to heating the house.