Farming Health Environment Nepal Phase II : Updated Activities (Nov-Apr)

Important accomplishments of FHEN in second quarter:

Several activities were accomplished in the second quarter. Out of many, major developments in the second quarter were:

  1. Completion of municipal level orientation program at all project areas

Due to the restructuring of the government, district level government offices were dissolved and all the responsibilities and authorities were handed over to the municipality. Therefore for the purpose of coordination, the idea of orientation program in each municipality was conceived. Accordingly, separate orientation programs were organized in four different municipalities. Mayors, chief of health section, agriculture section and NGO section, representatives from local agriculture cooperatives, farmers, health workers and social workers attended the program. Crucial feedback was obtained from the participants basically on the need to coordinate with local level for the effective implementation of the project activities.

  1. Conduction of workshop on participatory development to FHEN staffs

The workshop was facilitated by Ms. Homa Thakali. The workshop was mainly designed to help field based staffs for the proper management of challenges being faced during the implementation phase and to enhance their skills. It included topics such as coordination, negotiation, attitude, development and development approaches, sustainable development, presentation, facilitation skills, development workers and their characteristics, effective feedback, field visit and assertive communication skill.

  1. Development of IEC materials

Two IEC materials have been prepared in second quarter of FHEN. One was leaflet about the introduction of the FHEN project and another was about the crucial points regarding the health dimension of the pesticide use and the need to follow waiting period.

  1. Conduction of awareness campaign on pesticides minimization at Ratnanagar Festival

Ratnangar Festival is a festival organized every year where large number of people visit from all the areas of Chitwan District and neighboring districts. The festival has various knowledge generating messages with stalls, foods and entertainment facilities. Therefore it was realized that it could be a centre of attraction to people from the project working areas as well. Thus, as a part of advocacy a stall was set up from 15th of January 2018 for a week with the objective to sensitize audience (especially farmers, students) about the health hazards of pesticide use and its safety measures.

  1. Advocacy workshop at Bharatpur metropolitan city to all ward chairpersons and metropolitan officials

The objectives of the advocacy program were to sensitize municipal officials and ward chairpersons about the need to address the growing use of pesticides and ensuring people’s health and to discuss on different alternatives on how the issue can be addressed at local level. During the presentation, Project Manager, FHEN explained about the situation of pesticide use in Chitwan District sharing some data from baseline survey and their hazardous effects in health and shared the possible ways to mitigate the problem from the local level. Ward chairpersons realizing the issue of irrational pesticide use have addressed the Mayor of Bharatpur metropolitan, and they advocated for:

  • The need to address the issue of Indian border which is allowing the import of banned pesticides and vegetables with excessive amount of pesticide residues.
  • To regulate the pesticide use in crops and poultry. Sensitize farmers and also address the issue of suicide due to the use of pesticides.
  • Educate school children about the precautions to be taken at home while handling pesticides and influence their parents through them.
  • The need to work on market management and price for IPM products and establish a lab which can measure the pesticide residues in vegetables and crops in Chitwan.
  • The need for strict supervision and monitoring to pesticide retailers to check the sales of banned pesticides.
  • The need to work for the management of safe disposal of pesticides.

  1. Completion of baseline survey in Chitwan District

Baseline survey was conducted successfully. Ethical approval letter from Institution Review Board of Nepal Health Research Council was also obtained.

Major findings of the baseline survey with regards to Chitwan district are:

  • From the baseline survey it was found that out of 790 farmers, 92% of farmers use some kind of pesticides in their farm. Among them, 58% use only chemical pesticides in their farm. About 32% use both botanical and chemical pesticides in similar proportions. About 10 percent use botanical pesticides in their kitchen garden and chemical pesticides in commercial farm. One percent use botanical pesticides only and 1% use pesticides rarely.

  • Among all study participants, 75% were found to use any one type of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Most commonly used PPE were mask and full sleeved shirts and pants.
  • Regarding the duration of pesticide use, almost half of farmers revealed that they are using pesticides since more than a decade.

  • Regarding health effects of pesticide use, about 18% of farmers were found to have suffered from any illness related to pesticide use in last year. Most common complaints reported were skin allergies, irritation, muscle twitching, dizziness and severe headache.

  • Having realized the need to address the issue of unregulated and hazardous pesticide, majority of farmers have urged local government to work on the issue. According to them following steps can be taken by local government so that excessive use of chemical pesticides would be minimized:

  • Provisions of subsidy to farmers who are willing to practice alternatives of chemical pesticides because they may suffer from loss due to lower production for the initial few years.
  • Local government was urged to develop pesticide minimization and regulation act for their area. Also the need for conducting IPM/organic farming training and conduct awareness campaigns to sensitize farmers and communities on harmful effects of pesticide use.
  • Also farmers have pointed out the need to intervene to the consumers so that they are able to realize the importance and select organic or IPM products. This will ultimately create demand for those items in the market and thus will give space to farmers.
  • Finally farmers suggest the need to manage the market so that local farmers get opportunity to sell their products by their own (not through brokers) and be able decide the cost of their production by themselves.

  1. Dissemination workshop about baseline survey findings at two wards of Bharatpur metropolitan
  • The dissemination workshop was held in ward level. It was completed in ward 6 and 14. The objective was to brainstorm among local stakeholders about the possible ways to address the issue of unregulated and massive pesticide use. Most of the presentations were done through bar graphs to facilitate participants for easy understanding.
  • Having completed the presentation, many queries have come out from the participants regarding the process of sampling, survey participants and their distribution. After discussing the methodology of survey in detail, the session went through rigorous brainstorming on the current situation of pesticide use in the village. There were round of discussions, agreements and disagreements on what actions can be taken to mitigate the problem. And finally it was decided to take some actions on this issue and they agreed to have close meeting with all ward representatives and officials if some resources can be allocated from ward office itself for pesticide minimization. Also it was decided to do some home work on how can we proceed.
  1. Participatory planning in ward 14, Shivanagar, Bharatpur
  • Having based on the findings of baseline survey, participatory planning was done in ward 14, Shivanagar, Bharatpur. It was conducted in close collaboration with ward office and local agriculture cooperatives. Representatives from farmers, professional sprayers, retailers, ward improvement committee, female community health volunteers, health workers, mother groups, elected members and school teachers had participated in the program. Project Manager, FHEN shared the major findings of baseline survey and it was followed by discussion among participants. The discussion was focused on how to solve the issue by the community themselves. Participants were then divided into different groups as per their occupational category to plan on how they can contribute to minimize pesticide in their ward. They have come up with detail implementation plans to be completed in a year. These plans match with the project activities plus they have developed more plans which local stakeholders should take initiation. Participants also nominated a committee among them responsible to ensure the implementation of plans and its quality. Ward chairperson also shared his commitment on behalf of ward office. This program provided an avenue for local community to communicate with local authorities face to face to work for pesticide minimization in the area. FHEN has defined its role to support local authorities for the implementation of some crucial activities as mentioned in the project plan. However, for overall reduction of harmful pesticide use, joint and collaborated efforts are necessary and should address the issue of consumer awareness and market management as well. This exercise helped to go beyond farmers to address the issue and also it will gradually develop ownership among local communities and authorities towards pesticide reduction programs. For the project it was a part of advocacy program to create a supportive environment in the ward to work for pesticide minimization.

  1. Conduction of Farmers’ Field School at Shivanagar, Bharatpur

After participatory planning at Shivanagar, Farmers’ Field School (FFS) has been started in collaboration with ward office. In total 30 farmers are enrolled in the program from different parts of the ward. The training consists of practical exercises to facilitate farmers to identify the useful and harmful pests in their farm and manage them with the adoption of integrated pest management approach. The training course is of 22 weeks duration.