Money

Returning migrants find farming more lucrative

- MADHAV ARYAL, PALPA

Oct 5, 2017-Man Bahadur Raskoti of Ribdikot-7, Palung had arrived in Malaysia as a migrant worker; but when he did not get a good job, he returned home immediately and took to vegetable farming. Last year, he earned a cool Rs500,000 by selling the produce from his farm. 

After the village was connected with a motorable road, Raskoti and several other farmers decided to become entrepreneurs. They started commercial vegetable farming and formed a cooperative with the help of the District Agriculture Office. 

The cooperative they founded, Mainadi Agriculture Cooperative, now has 64 members, and all of them are associated with commercial vegetable farming. 

Another farmer, Lum Bahadur Kunwar, has been taking home Rs800,000 annually from vegetable and orange farming. Last year, Kunwar’s income from vegetables amounted to Rs600,000. “We don’t even think of going abroad for a job now,” said Kunwar, who spent four years in Malaysia. 

Three years ago, their cooperative group started collecting vegetables and shipping them to market in the district headquarters. The group has expanded market access to Butwal, Syangja and Pokhara. 

“After we started commercial vegetable farming, we began to receive large orders from various cities,” said Keshav Kunwar, manager of the cooperative. “The village used to see local youths rushing abroad in search of jobs. Now, it has changed. They prefer to stay and work here.” 

Man Bahadur Bumrel, a retired Indian Army soldier, is also happy growing vegetables. In the beginning, the cooperative group used to supply 10-15 crates of vegetables daily to the district headquarters of Tansen. Shipments began to swell after more and more farmers became associated with the group. 

“Farmers don’t need to worry about not being able to sell their harvests now. All marketing is done by the cooperative,” said Keshav Kunwar. “It has ensured a market for the farmers.” 

Last year, the cooperative sold 190 tonnes of different types of vegetables with receipts totalling Rs15 million. “Vegetable supply is likely to increase sharply this year as farmers have been expanding the vegetable acreage.” Commercial vegetable farming is done on 800 ropanis in the village.

As the cooperative has also been running an agro vet, farmers have easy access to seeds, pesticides and other agricultural inputs. Middlemen are another worrying factor for farmers. They said that consumers in the district headquarters were being forced to pay Rs125 per kg for tomato when the farm gate price is Rs70 per kg. 

“Middlemen make a higher profit,” said farmer Tul Bahadur Kunwar. 

Published: 05-10-2017 09:49

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