World Food Day: better technology improves grain mill yield

Karna BK lives in a modest village in the Dailekh district of Nepal. Photo: LWF Nepal
Karna BK lives in a modest village in the Dailekh district of Nepal. Photo: LWF Nepal

Promoting livelihoods in mid-western Nepal

(LWI) - Karna BK, 36, knows what it means to be hungry. Born in Dailekh, he was 10 years old when his father passed away. His mother re-married, and he was taken in by is maternal uncle. In the uncle’s house there was never enough to eat. At the age of 13, BK left for India, worked as a street laborer and later in different factories and companies.

Food security is a problem for many Nepali, 40 percent of whom live below the poverty line. Agriculture is the main source of income in the country, but only 25 percent of the country in the Himalaya is farm land. The majority of the population live in remote, mountainous areas.

A childhood of hunger

Dailekh district in the mid-west of Nepal is one of these areas and food security is a problem. Its inhabitants depend on food imports from neighboring India or from the more arable lowlands. Many Nepali leave the country to find work – in India, Malaysia or the Gulf countries. The countryside is full of households headed by women who have husbands or sons supporting the family with income from abroad.

“India was big and my search for the dream of a better life in India was so intense that I returned back to Nepal after 8 years,” BK recalls.  When he had enough money, he started visiting his home in Nepal once a year, usually during Dashain, a 15-day festival similar to Christmas in the Western world.

On one of these visits he met his future wife. Money from India allowed him to get married at the age of 26 and to start a business in Katti village in Dailekh. BK set up a water-powered grinding mill.

Initially a successful idea, BK soon discovered that the water of the local stream was not enough to propel the wooden turbine during dry season. The income was just enough to meet the household expenses. “The grinding mill was almost nonfunctional during the winter due to the heavy weight of the turbine, so I was starting to think about a different solution”, BK shares.  

LWF Nepal has been working with communities to break the cycle of poverty. Since 2013, families in village communities in Doti and Dailekh districts have received livelihood support to provide them with means to better survive natural disaster such as drought and make sure they always have enough to eat.

New infrastructure

When BK faced difficulty continuing his grinding mill business, LWF Nepal provided him with an aluminum turbine to replace the heavy wooden structure. “The result was miraculous,” he recalls. “Even in low water the force of the Malu stream was able to push the turbine and run the grinding mill. I could operate it also during winter season. The speed also improved, resulting in greater efficiency of the mill.”

A few months later, BK’s earnings from the water mill had doubled.

LWF Nepal has also provided BK with training to manage his finances and he has been able to manage his income better. He utilizes the money for clothing, health checkups and the education of his three daughters. He  also plans to set up another business in his village. “Going to India for work is no longer the solution for me, I need to take care of my daughters. I want them to have a good education,” he says.

 

(Story contributed by Umesh Pokharel and Chandan Shilpakar/LWF Nepal. Edited by LWF Communications.)