Israel returnees transforming country’s agriculture sector

Ramkot (Kathmandu), July 1

Promoting commercialisation in agriculture to transform the agro sector, which has been mentioned in numerous policy documents of the government, has been limited to the paper. But that might be changing in the days ahead, thanks to local youths who have returned from Israel.

Bringing with them the skills and technology that they learnt while in Israel, the migrant returnees have made it their mission to bring about a revolution in the country’s agriculture sector.Krishna Dev Silwal, 24 from Dhading district is one of them. He has developed a tunnel farm over 15 ropanis of land in Ramkot. Putting to use the agriculture technologies that he learnt during his 10-month stay in Israel, Silwal started his venture some six months back.

The yields from the vegetables that he sowed in the tunnel farm have been so good that he is already mulling over expansion. “I am trying to take more land on lease so that I can cultivate using this technology over a bigger area,” he said, adding that he would also be able to provide job opportunities for more people as his business grows. Currently he is employing four individuals to help him out in the farm work.

Many Israel returnees like Silwal have taken up farming on the outskirts of Kathmandu considering the proximity with the Capital.

In Israel, Silwal also learnt how to develop high-yield vegetables and inter-crops to get good returns. “Among my regular customers are traders from Kalimati and Balkhu fruits and vegetable markets, who visit my farm to buy vegetables,” he said.

Another Israel returnee, Lekhman Tamang, 29, has a farm in Jitpur Phedi of Kathmandu. Tamang also claims to be booking good profit from vegetable farming, producing more vegetables on a small area of land by adopting Israeli technology.

“Israelis have made miraculous advancements in agriculture sector despite various challenges,” said Tamang, adding Nepal has comparatively tremendous potential to develop high-value crops.

However, Israel returnees involved in farming say that they have still been facing various hassles in availing insurance facilities from insurance companies and credit from banks.

Tamang opined that lack of technology and agriculture extension services, coupled with inadequate financing are some of the factors holding back the country’s agriculture sector.

“The fact that Israel has been exporting surplus agro products after feeding its entire population, though only around three per cent of its workforce is involved in agriculture, should be an eye-opener for us,” he said.

There are around 1,150 Nepalis who have received the opportunity to learn agriculture practices in Israel under ‘learn and earn’ programme. Out of them, around 20 per cent have embraced entrepreneurship, according to Jalan Kumar Sharma, CEO of Sana Kisan Bikas Bank, which selects youths to send them to Israel for training under intensive supervision of Israeli embassy in Kathmandu.

If the cases of Silwal and Tamang are anything to go by, the government’s goal of moving towards self-reliance on agro products will not remain just a vision for too long.