The Knowledge Park at Godavari
When I first learnt about a knowledge park in Godavari, about an 1.5 hours drive east of Kathmandu, I didn’t know what to expect. I think I thought it was some kind of interactive educational place, although in Nepal I wasn’t quite sure what that meant….
Turns out its a 30 hectare “educational farm” developed by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) as a demonstration and testing site for sustainable farming in the Himalayas. With modern development and climate change threatening the livelihoods of so many rural communities throughout the Hindu-Kush area, ICIMOD tests different environmental farming methods and environmentally-sustainable agricultural practices. That means Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India, Myanmar, and Pakistan,,, not just Nepal. The center serves as a resource for visiting groups from all over the region.
There’s lots to see, and in the short 1.5hrs that we were there, we only saw highlights, but I really enjoyed the tour. The park was well kept and groomed, with labels and information boards explaining what we were observing. We strolled through a variety of different areas including orchards, crop fields, greenhouses and a display of alternative energy. There are nursery gardens, pigeon roosts, chicken farming, angora rabbit raising, and composting areas. We also viewed mushroom farming, forest floor management programs, and the raising of unusual crops including medicinal herbs. Their training center runs classroom and practical training courses on the many different kind of practices they maintain, training trainers so they can back to their respective communities and build on the idea.
Here’s a few pictures of the different practices going on there. I found it really interesting:
Solar heaters like this can boil water in about 30 minutes, providing families with free fuel to cook their meals.
Briquettes can be manufactured from paper, mulch and other organic matter, which are mixed with water, compressed, dried and used to make a pretty efficient source of fuel.
Briquettes like the ones manufactured above can burn for 30-60 minutes which is enough time to cook a meal. Not only are they another free source of energy, but their use means less wood burnt for everyday use, and helps prevent deforestation.
Demonstrating a pedal-powered water pump for irrigation
Forests in the park are maintained to keep them healthy, and the cut logs are injected with mushroom spores. The logs produce mushrooms for several years.
And finally, a couple of pictures from the orchard. There’s probably something more I could say about what they were doing there, but I enjoyed being in a blossom-filled orchard so much that I wasn’t really reading the signs! A beautiful break from the dust and grey of the city….