The Himalayan Permaculture Centre (HPC) is a grass roots non-government
organisation (NGO) set up by trained and motivated farmers from Surkhet district
(Mid-Western Nepal) in 2010 to implement regenerative and sustainable rural development programs in Nepal.
In Nepal, over 90% of the working population are dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Subsistence agricultural practices have developed to be finely in tune with local climate, landscape and people's needs. Such practices are intimately interwoven with the forest and other natural resources to provide basic needs of food, fuel, fodder, timber, medicines, etc. Nationalisation of the forests, rising population and inappropriate aid programmes, which often try to replace traditional practices with "something better" have combined to undermine the sustainability of traditional agriculture. The result is a disempowered people with unequal access to basic needs, struggling to make ends meet despite working all hours and yet not even able to grow enough food to last the year.
These communities can be seen as "marginal" – lacking access to key resources such as education, health care, food security and credit. At the same time the physical areas where they live can also be described as marginal – high altitude, remote and steep, with poor infrastructure of roads, power and communications. These are the people and places where HPC has prioritised its work, where small inputs of appropriate technology and appropriate education can make huge differences.
HPC's strategy centres around 3 main activities:
1. DEMONSTRATION: (seeing is believing) of how local resources can be assembled, with additions from non-local sources as appropriate, to form a sustainable agriculture and resilient domestic food and energy security. "Sustainable agriculture" here can be defined as "successful management of resources for agriculture to satisfy changing human needs while maintaining or enhancing the quality of the environment and conserving natural resources" (ILEIA). This encapsulates all agro-ecological principles and practices.
2. TRAINING & EDUCATION (learning how) - to farmers and development workers in the process of design and implementation of demonstrated sustainable agriculture systems and agro-ecological approaches.
3. RESOURCES (to DO) - the seed, seedlings and published information (books, booklets, posters, etc.) needed for farmers and development workers to design and implement such systems on their own land and in their communities.
A fourth sub-activity is RESEARCH to identify useful new species and cropping patterns, or combinations of those existing traditionally, which are favoured and can be appropriated by local farmers for their own use.
HPC carries out demonstration, training, resource production and research on its own resource centres (working farms) in Kathmandu, Surkhet and Humla districts. It also carries out these activities on farmers own land, though the research needs to be risk-free otherwise they may lose valuable food crops/land if experiments don't work !
In addition to its farming-related activities HPC also works in the health, education (schools and adult literacy) and livelihood sectors because of their connection with its agro-ecological strategies.