Bhumi Shara Khadka is a 35-year-old community business facilitator who has made significant strides in agriculture and community development. Her journey began after completing training in sales skill development and technical capacity building for community business facilitators (CBF) organized by the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) in June 2022 and April 2023, respectively. This training opened up new opportunities, and she soon secured a job as a CBF. However, her ambitions didn’t stop there.
In February 2022, the Cereal Systems Initiative for South Asia (CSISA) recognized her potential and recommended her for a role as a community business facilitator with Laxmi Agrovet, a local agribusiness. To prepare for her new position, Ms. Khadka underwent additional training in various areas, including running sales meetings, farm mechanization, post-harvest handling and the fundamentals of sales and marketing. With these tools in hand, she set out to make a difference in the lives of farmers and the broader community.
To date, Khadka has conducted 97 sales meetings with farmer groups where she explains improved production methods, plant protection, post-harvest handling and how to market agriculture products effectively. She also demonstrates and sells Laxmi Agrovet agri-inputs such as seeds, fertilizer and tools. She gets a 20% commission on sales, bringing her an average net monthly income of NPR3,375 (US$26). Her role as community business facilitator also involves linking farmers with the local government agriculture program. As a result of her efforts, three farmers have each acquired a mini power tiller at a 50% subsidy.
Inspired by Khadka’s example, Chitra Bahadur Rokaya, acting director of the Agricultural Regional Directorate in Surkhet, Nepal, has expressed his desire to visit farmers and learn more about the activities of community business facilitators like Khadka during the technical capacity-building training to CBF in April 2023. Rokaya has expressed gratitude to trainees who attended the IPM training organized by CSISA and would visit the field sites of the trainees, if possible.
Khadka has also used her knowledge as a business facilitator and IPM trainee to establish her commercial vegetable farm, which, with her investment and CSISA’s technical support, now occupies five ropani (0.01 hectares). Her husband helps out and Bhumi sells the produce at local markets in Melkuna and Badichour, Surkhet, with traders often coming to the farm to buy from her directly. Last year, she earned NPR227,000 (US$1,733) of which her net income was NPR63,500 (US$485). Since starting the farm, the family’s food habits and those of her neighbors have changed for the better. Last year, the family kept a quarter of the vegetables she produced for their consumption, and she gave about 10% to neighbors.
Last year, under Khadka’s facilitation, 48 farmers cultivated vegetables on an average of 0.02 hectares each, each achieving an average net profit of NPR63,500 (US$485). Khadka also owns a power tiller, which she rents out for others to use, earning NPR35,000 (US$267) last year from this service provision activity.
In addition to her business and professional success, Khadka completed high school in 2014, underlining the significance of her accomplishments. Khadka’s remarkable journey is an inspiring agriculture success story, showcasing the transformative power of women empowerment in rural communities. Her dedication, knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit have improved farmers’ lives and elevated the entire community’s access to nutritious food. Her unwavering commitment to her work has brought her well-deserved recognition, and she is a beacon of hope for others in similar fields of endeavor.