Our campaign at Surkhet

From the words of:
Sunita Bhandari
Sustainability Coordinator
Kopila Valley Sewa Samaj (KVSS)

Sunita Bhandari is helping us to coordinate the activities at Surkhet and connecting the farmers and community Kitchens.

Solidarity Farmer campaign collaborated with the youth groups namely; ‘Bibeksheel Sajha Party, Karnali Province’ and ‘Bipadka Sarathi Karnalika Yuwaharu’ who were serving meals to patients and their families at COVID Isolation ward of Surkhet Ayurveda Hospital and Provincial Hospital in Surkhet. Locally grown organic vegetables were sourced by Solidarity Farmer from farmers of ‘Sana Kisan PGS management committee’ and delivered to community kitchens which supported in serving all together 563 plates of meals to needy people.

Imagine how it feels when you are at hospital with your loved one being infected with COVID-19 and you being physically and mentally drained have to struggling to manage nutritious food for him/her and for yourself in the lockdown situation when everything is shut down. This was exactly the situation for some people at some hospitals in Surkhet, namely COVID Isolation ward of Surkhet Ayurveda Hospital and Provincial Hospital, during the start of the lockdown due to second wave of COVID-19.

In such conditions, community kitchens campaigns initiated by local youth groups were really commendable. Youth groups namely; Bibeksheel Sajha Party,Karnali Province and ‘Bipadka Sarathi Karnalika Yuwaharu’ instantly started serving meals for the needy at the hospitals as soon as they knew the situation. They started with the motive to continue the work till the situation demands, despite of their own financial insecurity to source food for it. With the start of the initiative, they had to deal with the struggle in finding fresh and organic vegetables. ‘Also the vegetables imported from India were super expensive’ said Mamata Adhikari; campaign leader of ‘Bipadka Sathi Karnalika Yuwaharu’.

On the other hand, smallholder farmers who cultivated vegetables in pursuit of meeting their livelihood demands were harshly impacted as they had to struggle in selling their products. 

When we talk about commercial farming in Nepal,we know that  it is itself challenging to align with the ethics of benefiting people with balance in the environment. Those who dare to take the challenges are often very few, and farmers from ‘Sana Kisan PGS management committee’ belong to them. They were regularly supplying their organic products to one of the Schools in Surkhet in normal days. With the excitement of reopening of the school after first wave of COVID, they invested their best efforts to have the best production with the aim of a win -win situation for themselves and the school/students, i.e. themselves; with more financial benefits from better production and for school/students; being able to have locally grown nutritious organic foods, but their hopes were broken when lockdown restarted at the peak harvesting time.

In such a scenario, SOLIDARITY FARMERS campaign by Nepal Food came to address the needs of farmers and the community kitchens. Sourcing the vegetables from four of the local farmers and serving it to the community kitchens helped in serving a total of 563 plates of nutritious freshly cooked meals to the needy people. Though its representation in numbers might seem low but the support for the farmers and the needy people at hospital makes this of higher value. Bridging the consumers and the farmers in such situations makes it an example for the resilient food system applicable for the harsh situation like this. In the whole country, supply chain management is regarded as one of the areas for improvement in the agriculture system. Such initiative of promoting local production at local level can be replicable when we design our supply chain for a sustainable and resilient food system.