Green Enterprises Improve Livelihoods
Nettle powder production in Barpak is just one example of the Hariyo Ban Program’s green enterprise initiatives. It began in September 2012 when the Gorkha-based CARE Nepal team consulted with the District Forest Office and the Gorkha Chamber of Commerce to assess green enterprise potential. Nettle collection / cultivation was identified as a way to provide livelihood opportunities for people living in the upper reaches of Barpak, Simjung, and Ghyachok VDCs, all of which are densely forested and rich in biodiversity. Nettles can be found in abundance in these areas and are prized for their medicinal and nutritional properties.
Following the consultation, a Participatory Well-Being Ranking was carried out to choose nettle entrepreneurs. This is a process in which a group of households are asked to rank themselves based on their social and economic status within the community. The poorest and most excluded households then identify and implement livelihood support initiatives. In Barpak, the process identified 11 ultra-poor individuals (including 9 women) as potential entrepreneurs, and appointed Uttam Bishwakarma as the enterprise coordinator.
To support the initiative, the Hariyo Ban Program provided a NRs 216,000 (approximately $2,400) enterprise grant while an additional Rs 40,000 (approximately $444) came from the Ragar Community Forest User Group. The User Group also agreed to allow entrepreneurs to collect nettles from the forests, and committed to nettle cultivation should the current stock diminish. Uttam procured the equipment needed for the enterprise and a technician taught the entrepreneurs how to add value to the nettles by drying the plants and then grinding them into powder. Production and marketing of Barpak nettle powder began at the end of April 2013.
The abundance of high quality nettles in the forested areas around Barpak VDC makes nettle collection and processing a sustainable option for the local community. And there are other benefits too – the nettle is extremely nutritious, as Tara Gnyawali, Senior Livelihoods Expert with WWF Nepal, explains: “People have been using stinging nettle for hundreds of years to treat painful muscles and joints, eczema, arthritis, gout, and anemia in Nepal. Many people these days use it to treat urinary problems as well. Regular consumption of boiled nettle is also said to reduce chances of night blindness and to strengthen the immune system.”
In addition to the nettle enterprise in Gorkha, Hariyo Ban (with WWF Nepal) is processing grants for an aloe vera cultivation initiative (also in Gorkha district), and a leaf-plate (duna tapari in Nepali) making enterprise in Tanahun. The program also supports the creation of Livelihood Improvement Plans that enable Community Forest User Groups to obtain livelihood improvement grants. These grants are used to support forest resource-dependent communities to set up sustainable green enterprises. CARE Nepal has also supported livelihood initiatives that include cattle rearing, fruit production / selling, vegetable cultivation, and small-scale retail.
By encouraging green enterprise and the creation of livelihood improvement plans, the Hariyo Ban Program is helping to ensure livelihood security for communities that live in and around protected areas. Green enterprise also helps to decrease the haphazard exploitation of natural resources by promoting sustainability.
By Richa Bhattarai, Communications Associate, Hariyo Ban Program, WWF Nepal
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Disclaimer: The Hariyo Ban Program is made possible by the generous support of the American people through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The contents of this article are the responsibility of WWF and its consortium partners and do not necessarily reflect the views of USAID or the United States Government.