Nepal: Woman coffee farmer leads village in Fair Trade coffee farming

Mandu Thapa 

Mandu Thapa, 32, is from in Sindhupalchok district of Nepal. She comes from a farming family and is married to a farmer. Her village is located far from urban areas and considered remote. She is well educated, with the qualification of Intermediate in Arts. But she stayed with her family to help farming as their main source of income.

As a wife

Being the eldest daughter-in-law in the family (her mother-in-law passed away), she assumed the responsibility of planning and managing the extended family. Besides her domestic duties, she helps farming. She starts her day in the early morning by bringing fodder grass from the forest. She helps her sister-in-law in house cleaning and other household chores.

As a coffee farmer

Mandu is not only helping but she is taking active responsibility in farming, like expanding the plantation area. Presently she has planted coffee in 0.15 hectares (300 plants) of the family farm of around .75 hectares. She has also one coffee nursery, which annually produce 10,000 seedlings for distribution to the farmers. She has established a pulping center near her house to collect and process fresh cherry to produce dry parchment.

Besides farming, she proactively promotes coffee farming among the farmers and teaches farmers how to plant coffee. With her initiative and encouragement, Mr. Bharat Khadka has donated his land to build a central processing unit for the Coffee Cooperative Union. The Coffee Cooperative Union has been able to build the processing unit in the donated land with partial support from Beautiful Coffee and District Development Committee.

As a leader

Her family, realizing her enthusiasm and ability for hard work, gave her the opportunity to work in the area of coffee development. She got the job as Technical Coordinator at Sustainable Agriculture, Health and Environment Center (SAHEC), a non-profit organisation, in 2005. Her job allowed her to promote coffee farming and form coffee producer groups in Sindhupalchok. She worked at SAHEC until 2012.

Today, she is active in forming a network of coffee producers’ cooperatives to institutionalise production, processing and marketing of coffee produced in Sindhupalchok. Presently there are 65 coffee producer groups, 10 Primary Coffee Cooperatives and a district level Coffee Cooperative Union that is the federation of the Primary Coffee Cooperatives.

Mandu Thapa is a leader farmer. She is a member of Kalleri Danda coffee producers group and Pakhardobhan primary coffee cooperative. She represents the primary coffee cooperative in the district level coffee cooperative union and presently the chair of the union. She was elected during the last general assembly based on her commitment to develop the coffee sub-sector and passion to work for the benefit of the coffee farmers. She is the only female chairperson of district level Coffee Cooperative Union.

Her dream is to get Sindhupalchok recognized as a specialty in coffee, most especially as a Fair Trade coffee producing district with transparent system of coffee collection and marketing so that the profit is shared by the coffee farmers. One cannot imagine how a woman in a remote village can be so actively involved in development work besides doing the daily domenstic obligations of cooking, bringing fodder grass from the forest, collecting fire wood, among other things. Hats off to Mandu. She has become a role model in the remote village of Nepal.

Story contributor: Beautiful Coffee
For International Women's Day 2018 celebration