They say ‘nature’ has its own way of fixing things. This became true for the people of Sita Basti, a village located in ward 9 of Punarwas Municipality, Kanchanpur district.
People, who were landless, had resettled in the area under a rehabilitation programme brought into operation in 1971 AD in the country. But around 1995 AD, Dodha River eroded the settlement area forcing the settlers to leave their homes and settle in the nearby jungle. Their farmlands turned into river banks.
But now, locals are using nature as a shield to protect their homes from getting eroded again.
For the past five years, the locals have been planting sugarcane for commercial purposes, which has resulted in decreased land erosion. The locals are now returning back to their settlements from the jungle.
According to Amar Bahadur Sunar, Chair of Keshari Sugarcane and Vegetable Production Group, more than one dozen families have returned to their previous location and added that more families are in the process of resettling.
Ram Bahadur Khadka, a local of Sita Basti, shared that after planting sugarcane in the area, soil has started forming again in the land, which due to erosion had turned into a river bank. He further informed that the collective sugarcane farming has yielded economic benefits for the locals.
The locals of Sita Basti are only involved in sugarcane farming. According to Khadka, removing the expenses, one bigha of land can yield a saving of to 300,000 rupees. The sugarcane produced in the area is bought by local Bhageshwor Sugar Mill. More than half of the 250 bigha land of Sita Basti is covered by the sugarcane farming.
Aid from different donor organisations and hard work of locals have resulted in the good harvest from the land. Nepal Red Cross Society in collaboration with Mercy Corps had started the disaster management programme to save Sita Basti through the ‘cultivation of bank’.
According to Uttam Joshi, chair of Nepal Red Cross Society, Kailali, the locals are themselves are invested in planting sugarcane to prevent the erosion. He added that if the plantation continues at the same pace, then the whole bank might be converted back into farmland.
Joshi also informed that the cultivation programme started by Nepal Red Cross Society has also insured the sugarcane of the farmers.