Vegetable farming nurtures new fortunes

Madan Wagle

Tanahun, April 16:

It is hard to believe that a farmer who started vegetable farming with a mere investment of Rs 3,000 one and half decade ago, is now earning Rs Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 on a monthly basis. Bal Krishna Pokhrel, a resident of Bandipur-8, Yampa, has a story that fits the ‘rags to riches’ genre. He used to live in a small hut, which he has transformed into a concrete building. Happy with his achievement, he said, “I have planted cucumber, bitter gourd, gourd, eggplant, beans, onion, cabbage and cauliflowers, according to the seasons.” He said that his annual saving crosses the Rs 60,000 mark. But the continuous bandhs called by the Maoists and different political organisations have hindered the sale of vegetables, he lamented and added that vegetables worth Rs 0.3 million had been wasted so far. He said, “I had to sell vegetables even for two per rupees per kilogram due to the fear of wastage.”

He has even constructed a shed to assist him with farming. He collects bio-wastes from cattle at the shed and uses it as fertiliser. He feels that the use of bio-waste has brought down diseases in crops and has increased output. He does not need chemical fertilisers any more.

The bio-waste is spread in the fields with help of a motor. Most farmers from the 500 households in the district are into vegetable farming, locals said. They claim that they earn Rs 30,000 annually just from the sale of seasonal vegetables, cultivated in 112 hectares of land.

Local Hari Narayan Chaudhary has planted vegetables in 14-15 hectares of land and earns Rs 0.2 million annually. Similarly, Bhagwati Lamichhane has been doing vegetable cultivation since BS 2044 and said that it has become easier for her to manage her household now. She said that the farmers have proper knowledge about the diseases and productivity of plants now, but they still require a steady and proper market for their produce. If a proper market is managed for them, they would produce more vegetables, she added. Krishna Prasad Pokhrel also agreed with Lamichhane. Pokhrel has planted bitter gourd, cucumber, gourd, and eggplants on seven ropanis of land. He is worried that his produce is not getting a proper market.

More than 200 dokos of vegetables are transported from Yampa Phaant to Pokhara, Kathmandu, Lamjung, Gorkha, Baglung, Syangja, Waling, Narayangarh and Sundar Bazaar. However, the Maoists ban has led to huge losses. Farmers recalled the time when they had to dump 30 tonnes of cauliflower and 54,000 litres of milk due to such disruptions.