Though it has almost been a week we had been to Palung, the memories of the time we spent there still remains afresh in our eyes. After leaving the Kalanki bus station at 7 am on the 27th of July, we reached at Palung, Daman. Listening to tales of its astounding beauty, we couldn’t argue less with that as the scenery was totally out of this world.
We had been to Palung to attend the thirteenth session of EmpowHER, Mitini, that was organized in collaboration with Palung Bahu Udeshya Cooperative Ltd., and Ujyalo Foundation’s EmpowHER and was supported by Zonta Club of Kathmandu to give urban and rural young change makers a platform to share, discuss and understand the shared and unshared issues.
The main mission of our trip was to bridge the gap between the urban and the rural women. And, it turned out to be successful as it allowed the changemakers of EmpowHER to introspect the rural issues simultaneously devouring the local cuisine and culture with the most hospitable people ever met.
The first day started with forming groups of us and Palung’s young women. After the inauguration and brief introduction of 6 change makers of Palung in presence of the Chairperson and other respected persons of the cooperative at Thaha Municipality, we were told about Value Chain Management and for that we had to locate physical, human, socio, economic, and cultural problematic issues faced by people of Palung. The six groups had to find the challenges, opportunities and digressions in each step of Value Chain. There were a lot of problems from untouchability to unsystematic waste management. But, the production of potatoes took the cake. A lot of agro-products of Palung do not get suitable markets, and the farmers there have been facing the problem of high supply and low demand. And to answer why this is the case, all the six groups had to find out the possible digressions and potential.
On the second day, we went out and take a survey from the parties involved. We took the survey sample by interviewing local farmers, local business persons, wholesalers, and consumers. While analyzing the result of the survey, we found out there is a huge gap between a farmer’s price, and the price paid by consumer. Finally, we came to conclusion with some of the possible solution and recommendation.
On the third day, we made a brief presentation about our work and made a Facebook page called- ‘Palung ko Aalu – Namai Kaafi Chha’, for generating popularity in the social media and to circulate information and sales of the potatoes in Palaung to meet prospective clients and buyers and also to foster market.
In the 3-days-long program, participants learned about value chain, finding the problem and its solution, polishing interviewing skills, knowing tips to proper communication, setting questions for the questionnaire, survey sample and most importantly, knowing and discovering oneself in a new environment, out of each of ours comfort zone.
Looking at the situation of potato market, we came to deliver some recommendations and those were:
- Establish potato production local industries
- Using the Advance technology in cultivating potato
- Agriculture based training should be given to Farmer
- Established cooperative store house
- Business skill should be provided to farmer
- Media coverage for advertising potato
- Utilizing the social media and mobilizing the local youth for its preferment
In the closing ceremony, the session representatives Suraksha Shrestha, Pradhanya Yonzon and Ichhya KC from EmpowHER cohort of 2017, handed over the compiled, final report of survey result to the representative of the Cooperative organization. Similarly, the ward chair of Thaha Municipality-2, Mr. Bimal Kumar Dhakal, expressed his gratitude to EmpowHER team for arranging the impactful project ‘Mitini’ at Palung and wishes for the betterment of Ujyalo Foundation.
Likewise, the Facebook page ‘Palung ko Aalu, Naamai Kaafi chha’ created for the promotion of potato was handed over to 6 local changemakers, and then the 6 local changemakers were provided with tokens of appreciation and certificates from their respective mitini.
Finally, mitini, (roughly translated as friendship and sisterhood in English) happened among ourselves which allowed each of the participant of EmpowHER to have a deeper bond while also knowing the desires and hopes of girls and young women in Palung, very much like ourselves.
By Suraksha Shrestha, Pradhanya Yonzon, and Ichhya KC
The writers are EmpowHER Changemakers.