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What other than a challenge is it to work and struggle towards the improvement of the present food security of the local people, who until now were able to grow only a few crops on their meager land during 3-4 month per year? Aiming for greater food security in a land hostile and harsh such as in the high altitude district of Humla is not just to confront head towards the naked reality of the Humla people, but a great importance towards more sustainable development.
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From previously 3-4 months growing season RIDS-Nepal could extend the growing season up to 10 months per year with the greenhouse. Additional clear plastic (with 75 L/H2O each) and black HDP pipe (with 5 L/H2O each) "water sausages" are installed to capture additional solar energy during the day and to radiate the stored energy during the night. Only locally made pesticide is used beside practicing mixed plant cultures.

Each of the plastic "water sausages" contains 75 liter water and lies on a black "plastic sleeve" filled with pin needles which are locally available and create a good insulation to the ground soil. In this way the stored energy is radiated mainly in horizontal and vertical upwards direction, enabling small plants to have a more comfortable climate to grow during the cold seasons. The smaller black HDP "water sausages" can easily be moved around and thus are particularly good to support the growth of young plants and shoots.

Every new approach of a project has to be first tested, tried out and evaluated before the idea and the project is carried into the villages and disseminated on a bigger scale. In the same way the greenhouse, new to Humla, has to be first better understood in order to be appropriate and applicable for the local people and context. Thus in order to comprehend the potential and possible changes a greenhouse can bring to the permanent food shortage and harsh life conditions in the villages in Humla, its potential has to be recognised and its achievements proven. That demands a greenhouse research project with a detailed monitoring and data recording programme. The major parameters, such as the greenhouse inside air and soil temperatures as well as the inside air humidity, have to be measured and recorded throughout the year. In the following pictures and comments we show how we learn to understand what kind of micro climate can be created inside the greenhouse through the monitoring and recording of the greenhouse's key parameters over the course of the four seasons in Humla.

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In order to understand in detail what kind of the different climate can be created inside the greenhouse through the various construction methods, use of building materials and equipment, a detailed data measurement and data logging system with Hobo data loggers is installed in the HASO greenhouse. Thus inside the greenhouse the air temperatures and humidity is measured at 4 different heights, while outside the greenhouse one ambient temperature and humidity measurement is sufficient. Beside that, soil temperatures at different depths inside and outside the greenhouse are measured and recorded as can be seen more clearly in the following pictures.

Inside as well as outside the greenhouse, each 4 temperature sensors are installed to measure and record the various soil temperatures of the ground top soil, at 200 mm depth, at 600 mm depth and at 2000 mm depth. Once the recorded data is downloaded from the Hobos, detailed, 10 minutes temperature graphs are created for each day of the year. That provides new inside on how the soil temperatures vary inside the greenhouse over the course of the year compared with the outside climatic conditions.


To know the detailed temperature and humidity values inside the greenhouse over the course of the year enables to define what kind of micro climate can be achieved inside the greenhouse with the various design approaches. This will allow the creation of a new annual agricultural calendar, increasing the availability and quality of the food grown. This is a crucial part of sustainable development aiming to improve the permanent food shortages under which the Humla communities are suffering. The greenhouse project is a vivid part of RIDS-Nepal's running Nutrition Programme which aims to increase the availability of nutritious food for mal nourished children and mothers according to the month of the year and the daily tasks and energy spent of the mothers.


RIDS-Nepal has a local Humla staff, who enjoyed under RIDS-Nepal a 2 ½ years training as an agriculturist, who is responsible for the day to day operation and care of the greenhouse. Further one staff is trained to download on a weekly basis all the data recorded by the Hobo data loggers. In this way we can make sure that all the recorded data are available in table as well as in graphical form as the following example of the greenhouse inside soil temperatures at different depths shows for a one week data recording shows.



Understanding and defining the micro climate we can create in the greenhouse enables as to define what kind of either new vegetable can be grown, or what extended vegetable growing seasons can be achieved. Further, through growing and harvesting vegetable seeds locally (as shown in the following picture) we can help the plants to adjust to the local conditions more quickly and once used in the villages' greenhouses the plants should have a greater chance to survive and bring forth the expected harvest.

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Suitable plants growing in the same greenhouse bed, rotational crop planting and the use of only locally made pesticide provide good protection for the growing seedlings and plants.

In the RIDS-Nepal greenhouse seeds are grown, so that the plants will hopefully in the future be more resistive and used to the local climate, compared to the imported low altitude seeds from the cities.

All the research, trials, data measuring, recording and work aim to have ultimately a type of greenhouse design which is appropriate and applicable for the local people's context in their villages. Thus after the first 2 years intensive work and studies, the first few greenhouses have been built together with the local people in their communities.

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While the research greenhouse at RIDS-Nepal  HASO has adjustable windows and air drafts, the greenhouses thus far implemented in the villages where RIDS-Nepal is working and implementing HCD projects are much simpler. The village based greenhouses are similar. They use the local stones and wood beams, but the UV stabilized plastic is used only during the cold winter months from October to March. The rest of the year the greenhouse is uncovered and used more as a kitchen garden.

In partnership with the local people the RIDS-Nepal staff build the local greenhouse as one part of the "Family of 4 PLUS" HCD project approach. In some villages several families have joined to build one greenhouse together while in other villages individual people have taken the initiative to partner with RIDS-Nepal and built a greenhouse for their own use and business. The aim is that one day all the families in a village will be able to benefit from the increased availability of nutritious food for themselves as well as for a potential new income generation opportunity.

It is RIDS-Nepal's aim and desire to participate in the lives of the local people as much as possible. That's why we partner with them in all the HCD projects implemented in the 11 villages we work in 2008. But any technology, in order to be useful, life changing and supporting the people's overall development in a long-term and sustainable way, has to be developed, tested, evaluated and improved according to the local context in order to be relevant. But such technologies can not be purchased over the counter in a shop in Kathmandu, Nepal's capital. There is no short cut if we intend to be relevant and appropriate for our partnering villages' context and aim for dignified and sustainable development. That's why RIDS-Nepal develops new, for the local context appropriate technologies, often initially through student research projects at the Kathmandu University. Often new developed technologies of successful student projects are then installed in RIDS-Nepal's main field office HASO for their first real field applications and tests (see picture below). It is here where these new technology prototypes are tested and monitored in order to understand in great depth their benefits and shortcomings. Only in this way it is possible to understand the technologies in the given context and to improve the technologies so that they become more useful for the local context and the local people for whom they were developed and meant from the very beginning.


RIDS-Nepal HASO, Humla. It has become more than clear that the greenhouse has to be an integrated part of the long-term Holistic Community Development (HCD) approach we aim to develop as part of our central vision, work and life in Humla. That's why we have not only all the components of the "Family of 4", the Pit Latrine, the Smokeless Metal Stove, Indoor Lighting and Clean Drinking Water, implemented and in use in our office, but as well the greenhouse, the solar drier to dry some of the products of the greenhouse, the solar water heater for hot showers and the slow sand water filter, as they all have proven to be important parts of a long-term HCD project. They have to be implemented and used alongside each other in order not only to bring forth synergetic benefits from the various applied technologies, but in order to enjoy more long-term and sustainable development in the villages. Thus the initially "Family of 4" concept, which is RIDS-Nepal's basis of any HCD project has been extended to the "Family of 4 PLUS" concept, including either one or more of the above identified technologies alongside the "Family of 4" according to the local communities' own identified needs.

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