On a recent visit to Khiratadi, a rural village in the Bajhang District in the mountainous north-western region Nepal, I came across a very pleasant surprise.
I was there to monitor progress of local participants in the Suaahara program, the nation-wide the USAID-funded comprehensive nutrition and food security program HKI helps to implement. It combines the best elements of our homestead food production and nutrition education programs.
On that trip, I passed a well-managed chicken coop that did not belong to any of our Suaahara program participants. Curious, I stopped to ask the owners, a local family, what had inspired them to raise poultry. Ganesh Kunwar gave me a warm smile and enthusiastically answered, “because of you.”
A few months earlier, members of our team had come to his neighborhood to distribute poultry to Suaahara participants. It had occurred to Ganesh that raising poultry might be a good idea, so he asked if he could buy some chickens from us. To his surprise and disappointment he was told that they were not for sale — they were a special, New Hampshire breed of chickens that could only be given to program participants.
He and his wife, Suna, became increasingly determined to start their own coop. Eager to find their own high quality chickens, Suna sought out our field supervisor and tried pushing even harder for the chance to purchase a few of the ones reserved for the Suaahara program. She wouldn’t budge, but suggested that Suna get a regular local hen to hatch a high grade egg that she could purchase from one of the Suaahara coops. Ganesh and Suna ran with her advice and have been very pleased with the results — by the time I met them, their coop had seven hens, one rooster and ten chicks!
In addition to the money they earn by selling some of their poultry, they save on eggs they once had to purchase — and now their son Samir gets to eat an egg every day. While telling me how much the coop had improved their quality of life, Ganesh marveled at how little investment the enterprise had required. The only “loss” he reported was his card playing habit, because he claimed to be too consumed with caring for the coop to concentrate on his game!
Just as Ganesh and Suna had been inspired by friends and neighbors involved in the Suaahara program, members of their community have been encouraged by the Kunwars’ success to start their own coop. Ganesh and Suna saw how each new coop becomes a catalyst for others, and are grateful to HKI for starting this happy ripple effect in their community.