Apples for Peace looks to bring organic apple farming to the Helambu region of Nepal. We spoke with Aythos Field Manager, Nima Sherpa (who also won our World Environment Day competition in June) about her work with the project and the change that is already beginning to take shape in the region.
In May this year, we asked readers to send in their promises about sustainable actions they would look to adopt to mark World Environment Day. A Field Manager for Aythos, the NGO that runs the project "Apples for Peace", Nima Sherpa, sent in a pic declaring she would encourage local farmers to shift to organic farming, something she and the Aythos team have been doing for awhile to re-introduce apple farming to the Helambu region of Nepal, helping to rebuild the local economy which once thrived thanks to apple production. Having covered the the project earlier this year, we were keen to take a look at how Nima is walking the talk on a daily basis as well as get an update on the project overall.
RESET.org: What is your professional background and how did you get involved with Apples for Peace?
Nima Sherpa: I worked at a project called Helambu project for more than two years as a field and volunteer coordinator in the Helambu region. The project was based around Education and Health. I was a field coordinator of a girls education and empowerment project called Her Turn and field coordinator of a student collaboration project in the Helambu region.
Helambu used to be famous for apples but through use of pesticides and a lack of training, transportation and market, there are no more apples in the region. When I heard about the Aythos project from [Executive Director and Co-Founder] Beau Miller I was excited to be part of it because it is all about helping people bring back apples to the region. Later on, Beau offer me [a position with] Aythos.
RESET.org: What have been the biggest challenges/successes with the project so far?
NS: It was difficult to create awareness among people about organic farming and the importance of training but now people are starting to show an interest in organic farming and they had more [of an] idea of how important training is. There are some organisations which are promoting organic farming in the region.
RESET.org: What are the next steps for the project?
NS: Aythos is going to organise bee-keeping training in the Sindhupalchok district where 4 to 5 village people will participate. Aythos will be distributing apple tree sappling to the villagers of the Helambu region which will be brought in all the way from Mustang, [an area] which is very famous for apples in Nepal.
RESET.org: What have people's reactions been to the project and to your work?
NS: People's reactions are positive to the project and my work. People...have learnt a lot because of the training provided...[and] want more training for other things like fruits and animal husbandry.
People are proud and happy with my work, being a young girl they feel that I am doing great work. In the context of Nepal, it's a huge thing for people when a young girl does a job like [the one] I am doing. So, people really appreciate my work and help me.
RESET.org: In your opinion, what are some ways for young people to get involved with social or environmental projects?
NS: If there are workshops in schools or colleges regarding social and environment things or volunteering opportunities...[than these are interesting ways] for young people to get involved with social and environmental projects.
From Little Things, Big Things are Booming
The team behind Apples for Peace has spent the year undertaking training courses with local villagers ahead of next year's planting season, outlining the theoretical aspects behind organic farming and providing hands-on practical exercises where they can put that knowledge to work. The courses have been so well-received that the team has been asked to run the same training in four other villages. The training allows participants to receive tried-and-true feedback on their concerns and queries and the project has been met with so much local enthusiasm that participants are now looking at what other fruits they can start cultivating, includng kiwi fruits. Keep up-to-date with how this project develops by heading to Aythos' Facebook page.
Author: Anna Rees/ RESET editorial