Blacksmiths benefit from new technology
November 2009; Krishna Bahadur Bishwokarma makes iron agriculture tools. He inherited this business from his forefathers ' a source of living for `Bishwokarmas' ' the traditional blacksmiths !Biswokarmas fall in the catergory of `Dalits', who have been discriminated by the society as 'untouchables.'
Today Krishna is making a large profit out of his iron works as he uses efficient tools, quality charcoal and above all, the readily available loan. All this was possible with the intervention of the Community Development and Environment Conservation Forum (CDECF) with the financial support from the UNDP/GEF Small Grants Programme.
Till date 77 blacksmiths in Sipapokhari VDC of Sindhupalchok district have benefitted from the project' 'Improving Economic Condition of Blacksmiths and Environment Conservation'. The project has provided a comprehensive package for these underprivileged iron workers. The blacksmiths were supplied with efficient tools, were trained to produce quality charcoal and they were also provided some credit funds to expand their enterprise.
"The project taught us to prepare charcoal in closed chamber through pit kiln method and now we are producing more charcoal of higher quality", says Krishna. He further adds, 'I also received some sophisticated, new and efficient materials such as a hammer, a blower and a hand smother.'
Mr. Chintamani Sharma, the team leader of the project says, 'the pit kiln method has reduced the chances of accidental forest fire, which the blacksmiths are often blamed for. The project has also provided a welding machine to each group, which has not only improved their efficiency but also contributed to save forest. Most importantly, earlier they required 50 kgs of firewood to produce 4 kgs of charcoal. Now with the welding machine and the new technology, they are able to get 60% more charcoal from the same amount of firewood.'
A traditional iron worker, Krishna was earlier paid in grains once or twice a year- a local barter system, known as Bhaga Bali. The system still prevails in a lot of places. Now with the modern technology and available loan from the project, Krishna has been able to increase his product line. He produces sickle, hoe, spade, axes and Khukuri (traditional Nepali knife). He has paid his debts and is earning a net income of Rs. 15000 per month. These products are sold in shops and not from his house only. People are also paying in cash!
For him, this is a big change in life. He can give comfortable life to his family. Now his services are recognized in the village!