Micro Nurseries run by Rural Women

Whether it is food, water or agricultural terrain, women from communities around the world manage most of the planet’s critical natural resources. Empowering and educating these women and engaging them in environmental conservation can be incredibly useful. WWF-Pakistan works with women from farming households to develop additional sources of income. Growing trees on farmlands supplement a farmer’s income without adding or increasing additional expenses and efforts.

Trees provide fodder, fuel, small timber, shade, shelter and protection. To plant more of them, buying plants from commercial nurseries in cities and towns is costly due to high commercial prices and transportation costs involved for delivery to rural communities. The availability of high-quality material within the proximity of farmers at affordable prices is, therefore, necessary for the uptake of on-farm tree cultivation. This led the WWF-Pakistan team to establish small-scale nurseries run by rural women that can produce saplings for resource-poor farming communities.

Considering this, the Climate Resilient Crop Production (CRCP) project provided women from local communities with seeds, tools, and equipment to run small nurseries with a focus on growing saplings of indigenous trees, which may grow slower than exotic trees, but are far better for the overall agro-ecosystem.

“I was never seen as someone who could earn an income; rather, I was thought of as someone who loves to look after her family, cook food, and take care of livestock, which were my prime responsibilities,” says Abida, a 32-year old woman from Khanewal district. She adds, “Now I feel proud of my effort. At the time when I participated in this activity, my sister was getting married and I was able to buy a gift for her from the money I earned selling plants from my nursery.”

Micro-nurseries are run by rural women, who are provided seeds of indigenous trees and bags to plant them in. They grow and look after the seedlings for a period of three months before selling 75 per cent of the stock back to the WWF-Pakistan team at a price of PKR 10 per sapling, for further distribution amongst rural communities. The remaining stock is replanted by the nursery owner on her family’s farmland. So far, four micro-nurseries have been successfully established, which produced 40,000 tree saplings this year.

Women’s participation in agriculture production is significantly high, yet they are usually only involved as workers. They are not the owners of the land or produce, even if they have cultivated the crop. The profits are usually passed on to the male head of the family. Allowing rural women to establish micro-nurseries enables them to earn additional income for their households, while also contributing to nature conservation.