Parasol to host Nepalese visionary next month
Special to the Sun
INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. — Join the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation and the Changing Lives Nepal Fund in welcoming Parshu Dahal to the Unites States.
Dahal is executive director of the Society Development Center, a grassroots nonprofit in Nepal focused on reducing poverty through sustainable organic agriculture and other programs.
Dahal will share the story of farmers in remote Himalayan foothill communities, discuss the impact of organic cash crops and describe ongoing projects and future plans during a presentation Sept. 12, 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Donald W. Reynolds Community Non-Profit Center.
Organic tea, grown in Nepal, will be served along with light hors d’oeuvres.
Changing Lives Nepal, a fund held at the Parasol Tahoe Community Foundation, works to catalyze sustainable, effective change in Nepal by identifying local individuals with initiative, supporting them with strategic small grants to foster new projects, develop required infrastructure, cover gaps in garnered funding and sustain momentum at critical junctures. Supporting individuals who take action in their communities means supporting change on a personal level. Dahal is one such individual.
In 2001, Dahal helped start the Society Development Center. Dahal wanted to address poverty in his village region by focusing on organic growing and processing of tea for the export market. Realizing tea could grow on otherwise useless land, he organized villagers and trained them on the planting, care, and harvest of tea.
Dahal has inspired field staff to work on a volunteer basis when necessary, gained the trust of risk-averse farmers, and successfully tapped local, governmental and nonprofit resources — including writing a major grant to build the factory. In 2012, the processing unit, collectively owned by 155 farmer families, went into operation. This is the first large cooperative tea factory of its kind in Nepal.
Dahal successfully initiated a new regional cash-crop industry that allows farmers to become economically independent and self-reliant. Parshu is now leading a five-year project planting organic almonds in rural Nepal and helping farmers in a new area start an income-generating industry for their future.
Dahal predicts that by the end of the project, at least 200 farmers will be directly involved in farming on their own private land, more than doubling their current household incomes and creating a new, locally owned cash crop industry.
Dahal will visit the United States next month to observe and learn more about organic farming, sustainable food models, rooftop gardening, high-altitude gardening and multi-cropping, in order to utilize new techniques in SODEC’s current and future projects in Nepal. He will speak at the University of San Francisco and UC Davis.
He will also visit tea outlets and meet with tea specialists to better understand marketing, quality, wholesale, retail and packaging as the Nepal tea factory begins to produce for the export market.
To learn more about the work the Changing Lives Nepal Fund supports visit http://www.changinglivesnepal.org.
Nancy Porten is an Incline Village resident and founding member of Changing Lives Nepal.