EDITORIAL: Encourage them
It is a healthy trend that a steadily growing number of Nepalis, even after retirement or return from foreign employment, are turning to some useful economic activity.
In this context, people taking up off-season farming in Adhikaridanda in the Phewatal basin area provide cases in point.
Of the total of 160 households there, every single household has sent at least one of its members abroad for employment. Those retired, those back from foreign employment, and those staying back have taken to off-season vegetable farming.
On the whole, Nepal still imports a lot of vegetables and fruit, annually amounting to billions of rupees.
It is heartening that even those who have money to meet their expenses from other sources are engaged in vegetable farming, thus utilizing their time, energy and resources gainfully.
The vegetable production of the village used to be insufficient for its demand, but now the situation has changed for the better. They are using the “tunnel method” for intensive farming of vegetables off-season, producing tomatoes, chillies, cucumber, etc.
This kind of trend should be strengthened and started in new areas and by other people across the country as well.
Last year the village earned Rs. 3.75 million from sales of the 100 per cent organic vegetables grown in the tunnels of the village. Farmers there, however, have complained that it is difficult to take their produce to the market during the monsoon as the roads become horrible for transport them.
Those in authority should come forward to encourage people to grow more and more vegetables on season and off-season.
The country has a huge trade deficit every year and full development of vegetable and fruit farming in Nepal can save a outflow of foreign currency by way of imports of these items and also reverse the situation by making the country a exporter of vegetables and fruit.
At the village level, people taking up more and more economic activity which can give a good return only directly strengthens the local economy – it generates more jobs, including self-employment, increase income of the growers and others who work as labourers, and increase transport activity and sales down the chain from producer to consumer.
Growing vegetables does not require a lot of land; it can be done on a small, medium and large scale, according to one’s choice; if one does not have one’s own land it can be leased.
Nor does it require heavy investment and large irrigation facilities. On a small scale, a household can do vegetable farming on its own.
However, if the government comes forward in a big way to provide the incentives and support services, such as technical help, guidance, easy and soft-loan facility and other logistics necessary for production to marketing, vegetable farming in the country can make big strides.
Still, in a number of places in the country, vegetables and fruit produced there are rotting for lack of the failure to take them to the market because of no or poor transport, for which roadways should be developed at a faster pace.
The demand for the vegetables and fruit grown in Nepal is and will be high for they taste great because of the country’s congenial climate and topography for them.
Over the years the country is suffering from an increasing energy crunch. Still the concerned have failed to do away with the power outages with more demand for electricity.
Nepal should look for other feasible means for meeting its energy requirement from other sources as well which is possible if the collective efforts were made by the government, private sector and other related bodies.
For instance, solar and even wind energy could be exploited. There are talks about doing away with load shedding in the capital city and eventually throughout the country.
For this to materialize the country would have to import a substantial amount of electricity from India.
Experts have pointed out that were 80 MW of hydro power and 30 MW of solar energy plants brought into operation it would save the cost of fuel amounting to about Rs. 16 billion used by generators.
At a recent meeting of the Solar Electricity Manufacturers Association of Nepal it was concluded that it is possible to tap the solar energy which the country has in abundance and also expertise to meet the energy needs of the country.