1. The goal of this DFID-funded project was to improve rural livelihoods through accelerated adoption of resource-conserving technologies in the Terai region of the Indo-Gangetic Plain.
2. Farmers in Belwa and Benauli were assessed according to family size and landholding in order to determine their Rice Self-Sufficiency Indices and assign them to one of four socio-economic groups, i.e. Landless, Marginal, Subsistence and Food Surplus.
3. Male farmers said that they liked the Chinese power tiller (PT) because it costs less to buy and operate than a 4-wheel tractor, it can be used to till small plots, it has many attachments which can be used for seeding, transport and irrigation and can be hired out to generate income.
4. Female farmers said they liked the PT because they don’t have to dig out the corners of the field by hand, prepare food for the driver or feed it! They said that they were keen to learn how to drive the PT.
5. 68% of farming families in Belwa and Benauli are Marginal. The PT User Groups, set up by the Nepali team in Belwa and Benauli contained 70% Food Surplus and Subsistence farmers.
6. Food Surplus and Subsistence farmers formed business groups in Belwa in order to buy the PT from the project in six monthly instalments. Both PTs were later returned due to non-payment. Two Food Surplus farmers in Benauli took commercial loans to buy the PTs from the project and were able to pay back by hiring them out to other farmers.
7. Only 27% of Marginal and Landless farmers who had participated in the Users’ Groups in Belwa were able to hire a PT after they were privatised. All the Marginal farmers who had participated in the Users’ Group in Benauli were able to hire a PT after they had been privatised.
8. Food Surplus farmers were found to be in control of the production and marketing of new, improved varieties of rice and wheat seed in both Belwa and Benauli.
9. It was noted that the highest impacts of new technologies such as PTs and seed were on the livelihoods of the Food Surplus farmers, whereas the lowest impacts of these technologies were on the livelihoods of Marginal and Landless farmers, including women.
10. Recommendations were made on ways of making access and control of PTs and improved seed more equitable.
11. It was discovered that male Marginal and Landless farmers and women from Subsistence and Food Surplus farming families had the least access to information on new technologies.
12. The Nepali team drew up an Action Plan to unblock knowledge pathways, create an enabling environment for participatory technology development and optimise pro-poor development.
13. NARC scientists recorded and broadcast a series of programmes describing new technologies via FM radio. Feed-back from listeners was difficult to obtain as many farmers did not have access to radios.
14. Two day training sessions in vegetable production involved 47% of women from Marginal households in Belwa and 35% of women from Marginal households in Benauli. The Marginal women in Belwa obtained the highest incomes from marketing their vegetables.
15. 85% of participants selected for training in PT repair and maintenance were Food Surplus or Subsistence farmers.
16. The success of a Marginal farmer, who was not involved in the project but had used his own resources to purchase a PT on the open market, was documented.
17. A meeting with machinery suppliers resolved to request government incentives to assist in their efforts to import new machines.
18. The PVS process did not involve “baby” trials and thus excluded Marginal farmers from the pre-harvest monitoring and evaluation process. Food Surplus farmers retained control of the improved seed and sold it to neighbouring farmers.
19. By putting Food Surplus farmers in control of farmer selection, Tharu and Yadav castes were disproportionately represented in most training sessions, while in Belwa the majority Muslims were excluded from the training in vegetable production.
20. Suggestions are made for reasons why Food Surplus farmers became the main beneficiaries of this project and recommendations for capacity building are made.
21. The people of the Terai region are currently crying out for a new system of development that does not discriminate on the grounds of religion, caste or gender, and agricultural scientists have a crucial role to play in this.