A note from the interview: I had misconceptions of the difficulty a female farmer in Takure faces every day. I had no idea the daily struggle that Durga Koirala endures because it was always hidden behind her beautiful smile. When we interviewed Durga her eldest daughter had just been married and subsequently moved away from the village. This was weighing on Durga deeply. Because of the emotions that were connected to these questions, we chose not to ask further details on challenging subjects. As a widowed mother, Durga is responsible for bearing the weight of farming and raising her 6 children. Her youngest son attends boarding school and lives with his uncle, while the rest of her daughters help with farming while trying to attend classes. These children respect and adore their mother whole heartedly, she means everything to them, and it is obvious in the ways they help her and care for her. This family has constantly shown adversity in difficult times and I admire their continuous courage. I hope that next season we can continue to help her family though our agriculture’s coffee program. For every dollar donated, one tree is planted, but it also means so much more. The money raised will continue to support families like Durga’s in creating sustainable long-term job opportunities. I hope to continue this interview at a later time, as for now, here is a glimpse into the life of a female farmer in Takure. I hope that by reading this interview you see the connection between mothers around the world. Durga, just as a mother in your home country, hopes to raise empowered, smart, and healthy children. Sincerely, Bryce Tanner
Q: What is your name, where do you live, and what do you do for a living?
A: My name is Durga Koirala. I live in Takure with 5 family members, including myself. Two others are in Kathmandu and another lives in my uncle’s house. Sometimes they come home, but not often. The five of us stay here to do all the household work. I have one son, one daughter who is already married. Now five left waiting to be married.
Q: What does it mean to be a female farmer in Nepal? What do you like the most? What is challenging?
A: It is hard. I am getting a little help, which helps pay the school fees for my children. People ask me how I’m doing, all these things. Before they said they would provide a job for one of my daughters, but now they are saying they won’t. My other daughter says it is not possible to work in Takure. She will only find work in Kathmandu. Who will help her find a job or a place to stay?
My son still has to study. I provide some education to my daughters, but I have to spend money on my son’s education. He is small.
Q: Is farming sufficient to provide your family with food for the whole year?
A: No. Sometimes we have to buy food. Nearly half of what we eat we have to buy. This year we had enough corn to feed our buffalos, but not our family. We are not able to take care of all of the buffalo, and have to sell one. We are not able to get sufficient production from our farm because of problems with monkeys and insects.
We don’t have a sufficient water supply for our fields and for our crops. This year we planted corn in the month of Jestha (Nepali month). We were not able to plant millet and that is why we don’t have sufficient food from farming.
I have one coffee tree. It already has some fruit. Last year I didn’t pick any of the fruit because I was busy building my house. This year I will harvest it. Before last year I was able to earn 700 NPR (~7 USD) from the coffee tree. After my husband died, I planted this orange tree and now it is bearing fruits.
"My other daughter says it is not possible to work in Takure. She will only find work in Kathmandu. Who will help her find a job or place to stay?"
Q: Does you have access to enough water for your plants?
A: No. Because of the water problem, I have so many difficulties. People fight for water from the tap.
Q: Did you grow up farming? What is your favorite memory of farming as a child?
A: I didn’t work during my childhood. After I was married, every year I gave birth to a new child. My husband is the one that used to work in the fields. Before he died, he did all the farming, grew all the millet, and took care of all the animals. Now that he is gone, I have to do it. But even these days, I have my daughters to do a lot of this work as well. I have to take care of the house, and all other household chores. When it is necessary for me, I will leave the house and go run errands. For the government funding, I recently left to go receive it in the city.
Not only now, but I’ve had so much suffering and hardship during my childhood.
"If we have access to a water source, I can work hard and grow more."
Q: What do you grow on your farm?
A: I grow greens, onions, cabbage, and peas, but there is no water. You can see I planted onions, but there is no water for them. If we have water then we can grow a little bit more. If we have access to a water source, I can work hard and grow more.
Q: How much time a week or a day do you spend collecting fodder for the animals?
A: It takes 2-3 hours to go down to the field every day.
My daughters usually go to cut grass, and most of the time I am at home. When my daughters are busy with their studies, I do the work. One of my daughters is in Nawalpur right now for her studies. She only studies in the morning and returns home after lunch.
Q: What do your children do in the farm?
A: They do everything. Digging corn and taking care of the fields.
Q: What hopes do you have for your daughters? What do you see for them in their future?
A: My only wish is for them to find jobs.
To learn more about our coffee program or support the farmers of Takure,
Interview: Bryce Tanner and Sunita Pandey
Photography: Jonathan H. Lee