Rishi

Ashoka Fellow

Citation

This profile was prepared when Rishi Kesh Tiwari was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2005.
The New Idea
Rishi Kesh is developing rural communities in Nepal by providing training and new job opportunities for all community members, from landowners to landless “untouchables.” He is assisting the former to get higher returns, and helping the latter find new jobs—a process which is boosting the village economy and decreasing emigration to urban areas.
Rishi Kesh realized that to break the vicious cycle of rural unemployment, poverty, and emigration, agricultural workers needed to become more productive through innovative, sustainable farming methods. By organizing self-help training groups, Rishi Kesh trains agricultural workers so they can develop the skills and confidence to make the best of their agro-forestry resources and ultimately improve their livelihoods.
Recognizing that the Nepalese government’s efforts to build agricultural infrastructure were falling short, Rishi Kesh began working closely with farmers and landowners to identify the best methods being used as well as to develop new ones. Then, he organized community groups to spread alternative agro-forestry practices and provide technical support to landlords and landless untouchables alike. Whether by teaching how to develop organic manure and pesticides out of often discarded “waste” or by providing marketing consulting to the agro-forestry industry, Rishi Kesh is creating new wealth and new opportunities in rural Nepal.
This rising class of “agricultural entrepreneurs” has learned how to create wealth through proper management and use of agricultural products and Non Timber Forest Products (NTFP products). Already, the attitudes of rural farmers are changing from one of desperation and survival to one of opportunity and potential. Productivity and yield have increased, to the point where household-based enterprises are sprouting. For Rishi Kesh, this is a powerful development for alleviating rural poverty more broadly.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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