Off-season veggie farming booms in Adhikaridanda

Dhikur Pokhari, November 26

Shiva Bahadur Kunwar, 56, of Dhikurpokhari-1, Adhikaridanda is an ex-army official. But the ex-serviceman, who retired after completing 20 years of service in Nepal Army, has found a new identity thanks to his niche in vegetable farming.

Of the total 160 households in Adhikaridanda, every single household has sent at least one member for foreign employment. Kunwar, however, is happy to be here growing vegetables and coffee in his own field.

In fact, he had also travelled abroad in pursuit of job once. But after spending four years abroad after his retirement from the army, he chose to return home and start farming.

“My sons are abroad and are sending us their income from there. But for us, whatever we earn on our soil counts more,” said Kunwar, whose two sons are in foreign employment.

In the past, vegetables produced in Adhikaridanda used to be insufficient to cater to the demand of the village itself.

The situation has changed now as almost every household has taken up off-season vegetable farming and are making good income from it.

For farming in the village with high precipitation, tunnel method, which was first adopted by Uddhim Bahadur Kunwar, has been quite helpful.

At present, there are around 80 tunnels in the village, where tomatoes, chillies, beans, cucumbers and the likes are grown in the off season. As per rough calculation, one farmer can earn as much as Rs 45,000 from the sale of vegetables grown in a tunnel in a year.

Last year, Adhikaridanda earned Rs 3.75 million by selling vegetables grown in the tunnels. For technical assistance, Hariyo Ban Pariyojana has been providing the necessary guidance.

“The project has been a great help to us as it has been teaching the farmers what they should grow in a particular season,” said Krishna Bahadur Kunwar, Chharchhare-Surkekhola-Bhirgaundi-Gaidamuni Community Forest chairperson, adding the project has also helped by providing support to build tunnels, vegetable seeds and necessary training.

In fact, the vegetable farming in Adhikaridanda, the most sensitive place in the Phewatal basin area, is being done as part of a broad campaign to conserve the Phewa Lake. For conservation of the lake, a campaign has been launched by tailor-made programmes; namely ‘Climate Change Local Adaptation Programme’ at the village development committee level and ‘Climate Change Community Adaptation Programme’ at the village level.

“On the one hand, growing vegetables has saved the lake from possible shrinkage while tilling the land, and on the other hand, the alternative vegetable farming has also generated good income for us,” said Shiva Bahadur Kunwar, Milan Vegetables Group chairperson.

“We’ve formed two groups at the village level and the vegetables collected here are sent to the market twice a week.”

However, the farmers of Adhikaridanda lament the problems they are facing to take their produce to the market.

Though the produce is 100 per cent organic, it is very hard to transport the vegetables to the markets during the monsoon season as the roads are often in deplorable condition due to the rains.