Chepang Plant Collectors’ Cooperative
The Chepang are one of the indigenous ethnic groups of Nepal. The Chepang population is about 52 000 and they are one of the poorest ethnic groups in Nepal. Though they traditionally practiced swidden agriculture over large tracts of land, pressure by outsider groups and population growth have reduced the amount of land available per family. Forcibly made sedentary, most Chepang families grow only enough corn, millet and buckwheat to feed themselves for 3-5 months per year. While women take care of the house and field work, many men leave their families to work as laborers in towns and cities. Their life is shaped by hard work and poverty; only about 7% of Chepangs reach the age of 60.
Forests have disappeared in many Chepang areas; intact forests remain only in the most inaccessible areas.
The Cooperative: OneWorld’s works with the “Praja Cooperative”, formed by approximately 600 families who manage 500 ha of community forest. The cooperation began in 2006, after most international development assistance had been withdrawn due to the civil war in 2003.
Since 2006, OneWorld’s non-profit arm, The Himalayan Biodynamic Developments Trust (HBDT) has been carrying out trainings for the cooperative aimed at disseminating knowledge on sustainable methods for wild plant collection. Further a nursery had been built in order to distribute seedlings and contribute to re-forestation. In 2010 the re-forestation project was launched by distributing seedling to the Praja Cooperative members. OneWorld can now buy sustainably collected plant and use them in its products.
Implementation: Techniques for sustainable wild collection of herbs are introduced through HBDT’s trainings for cooperative members. The 600 families who are part of the cooperative are all involved. Collection follows internationally recognized standards for sustainability, and the cooperative has become certified for organic sustainable wild collection. The various forest herbs collected by the cooperative are integrated into OneWorld’s products and the Cooperative receives fair prices.From 2012 to 2014, HBDT has collaborated with the German NGO Welthungerhilfe and the German government’s Bundesministerium für Wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit (BMZ) on a comprehensive program to combat poverty in the area. The project contributes to eight Millennium Development Goals. It includes dissemination of seedlings for reforestation and initiation of important cash crops and Demeter products.
An expansion of the sustainable wild plants collection project into neighboring areas is planned for 2015.
Facts & Figures
1998 The Praja Sahakari Sanstha Cooperative is established.
2007 OneWorld begins working with the Praja Cooperative. Lessons on sustainable harvesting methods are designed, and a nursery is created. Internationally recognized sustainable collection/ organic certification is granted.
2007 At this time, the cooperative has 170 member families.
2010 The reforestation project begins.
2010 The nursery is relocated and significantly expanded.
2011 The German Embassy generously donates equipment. The Demeter conversion process begins on 120 ha of land, involving 146 farming families.
2012 A large-scale poverty reduction program, funded by the German Government’s BMZ and the NGO Welthungerhilfe begins.
2015 Planned expansion of the project.