Co-operative elevates Dalits’ living standards

KASKI: The economic status of Dalits in Salghari of Armala VDC in Kaski district is getting better after they opted for vegetable farming in groups with affiliation to cooperatives.

Thirty-four dalits took 100 ropanis of land on lease and planted vegetables on the land. They are also keeping cows and selling milk in the market.

Previously, the Dalits were engaged in daily wage work, That, however, has changed after they started vegetable farming and keeping cows. They were encouraged to do so after the government launched a programme of providing job opportunities with the establishment of cooperatives in villages, the Kaski District Agriculture Office said. They established cooperatives four months ago, took technical training and got Rs three lakh from the Kaski District Agriculture Office to started joint farming and cow keeping.

“We have no land of our own. Yet, we are encouraged after we took land on lease for farming,” they said. They planted potato

on five ropanis of land and

generated an income of Rs 55,000 from the sale of potato crop. The Dalits have planted maize on 15 ropanis of land and paddy and vegetables including pumpking, gourd, cucumber, beans, cabbage and okra on 85 ropanis of land.

The income is being saved in the cooperatives and wages are given to the members of the cooperatives in the return for their daily work, members of the newly-formed cooperatives said, adding, “We are earning Rs 1,000 everyday from the sale of milk of eight cows.”

“We took Rs two lakh as loan for building, cattle-farming and vegetable growing,” Bishnu Bahadur BK, chairman of Salghari Agriculture and Dairy Cooperatives said, adding that the land was taken on lease on the condition of providing annual Rs 2500 to 3000 for each ropani of land. District Agriculture Office chief Beni Bahadur Basnet said, “We provided Rs 1.5 lakh for irrigation and Rs 1.5 lakh for the equipment.”

“As we have turned to self-employment, we are hopeful that the government will help us in our attempts,” Sita BK, a member of Salghari Agriculture and Dairy Cooperatives said.