$250 a year. That’s the average annual income in many Himalayan villages in Nepal. Hunger and malnutrition are continual companions. Health care is non-existent. Thus, infant and childhood mortality is high; those that survive are often stunted by years of malnutrition. Because people often have to walk many days over treacherous trails to the nearest road or market, opportunities to increase family income – and thus each family’s prospects – have been limited.
These are the villages The Mountain Institute works in: we help remote mountain communities to increase incomes, conserve environments and preserve cultures.
It’s a challenge to make a lasting difference. Ten years ago, we started training 20 people to grow and market certain rare medicinal and aromatic plants, which grow only in the high Himalayas but are very valuable in Asia. A $300 grant was our seed money.
Now, over 13,000 villagers, nearly half of them women, have been trained to grow,harvest, prepare and market these valuable plants. (We trained 6,500, giving them seeds, a few tools and lots of training and support; our trainees trained another 6,500.) We are now working in 62 village districts (VDC’s). We have established farmers’ cooperatives to assist with training, storage and marketing. As a result of our Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (MAP’s) work, over $1,000,000 in additional income has been earned by these villagers.
Here’s one example of our effect on one family: Prior to his training, Deo Prakash’s family was often hungry. His six children rarely attended school. Deo joined our program. His family’s income grew from $175 a year (48 cents a day) to over $800 a year. Now, Deo is sending his two daughters to boarding school.
Now thousands of girls and boys across Nepal are living better lives and we have expanded our program to both India and Peru. It all starts with a seed.– Bill Carmean Chairman of the Board The Mountain Institute