Badri N. Dahal

Ashoka Fellow
,
Fellow Since 1990
Institute for Sustainable Agriculture-Nepal

Citation

This profile was prepared when Badri N. Dahal was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1990.
The New Idea
Badri is spearheading the introduction of new forms of environmentally and economically sustainable farming and forestry. His chief focus is on the family of six that must sustain itself on a half acre or less–60 percent of the nation.
He's helping these families consciously take charge of everything in their environment–the land, the crops, the trees, the buildings and other improvements, and the energy and water they must use. Step by step, each small farm becomes more self-renewing and profitable–and something the farming family understands and takes as its own responsibility.
Badri is building a national network of small demonstration farms, each adapted to the peculiar ecosystem and social patterns of its part of this surprisingly diverse small country. The demonstration farm he launched in Jajarkot District (Midwest Nepal) in 1988 illustrates some of the techniques he's spreading. The farm is self-sufficient in food, fodder, compost, firewood, and maintenance materials, and also generates some surpluses for sale. A wide variety of trees–fruit, fodder, and multiple-use species–grow on all bare and unproductive land as well as around and in the agricultural fields. The farm is experimenting with various low-input and no/minimum tillage ways of raising vegetables, grains, pulses, and legumes. The farm is also gradually weaving in shelter belts, companion planting, zonation, and beekeeping.
As an integral contribution to Badri's dream of hundreds of thousands of prosperous and healthy small farms, he's also championing the development of stabilized (e.g., one-seventeenth cement) mud-brick construction. Badri is demonstrating this technique in his new headquarters and training building. He managed to persuade the Agricultural Development Bank of Nepal to finance a demonstration low-cost home in West Nepal using these mud-brick techniques.
He's also developing or planning several national backup services beyond the network of demonstration farms. Training services are central, but he's also working on plant nurseries, seed exchanges, and other ways of preserving the diversity of the country's self-germinating germ plasm.
Badri's outreach is extraordinary–from carefully phased and paced approaches appropriate to individual farmers to his researching and championing the creation of a national coalition of environmental organizations. This "green non-political pressure group of NGO representatives," according to Badri, would "provide information for, and feedback on, environmental issues to the ruling/opposition parties" in newly multiparty Nepal.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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