China Kumari KC is a farmer in Dunai in Nepal's rugged Dolpa district at the foot of Dhaulagiri. Raising seven children and managing a small homestead on a steep Himalayan slope at 3,000 m, China Kumari was barely making ends meet. Two years ago, she decided to start rotational cropping of vegetables with maize and wheat on her 0.1 hectare farm.
That was a bold decision, and a gamble. But it has paid off. Today, China Kumari grows high-yield potato, onion, radish, coriander ensuring her family year-round food security and annual cash income of Rs 80,000 a year. And China Kumari is now helping 160 other farmers in Dolpa to follow her example-she is a role model for many women farmers in this district.
Her contribution to farming innovation had been recognised by the government in Kathmandu, and she has bagged numerous awards. Now, she has also got international recognition. China Kumari was recently chosen "Outstanding Female Highland Farmer" by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and travelled to Bangkok to receive her award from Thailand's Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn.
FAO's Y.S. Rao Award went to four outstanding farmers from Bangladesh, Indonesia, Thailand and Nepal this year.
FAO's citation for China Kumari said: "She has overcome social, economic and geographical odds to become a successful farmer in one of the world's most difficult agro-ecological conditions."
Hunger is as much a cause of poverty as its result. Better nutrition for the hungry in poor nations results in faster economic growth. China Kumari has certainly shown how one person with initiative, commitment, and knowhow can persevere over overwhelming odds.