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In Ramechhap, a farmer redefines Nepali dream

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In Nepal, when one earns money, the first thing the person dreams about is  to buy a house in the city, and after that add floors to the house so that it can be rented.

But for Rangdan Tamang, who was recently recognised by the government as one of the best farmers in the country (he received the President’s Excellence Award), the priority is on saving money and investing it in agriculture.

Tamang, a former driver at Khimti Hydropower Project, used to earn Rs 70,00 to 80,000 per month, quite a huge sum for someone living in Ramechhap.

“I used to work at Khimti and manage my farm, side by side. I invested a major portion of my income in it,” he remembers.
“My district has a really good climate for different types of fruits and herbs and through my farm, I want to help everyone tap its potential.”
While his neighbours are subsistence farmers growing kodo ( millet) and paddy, Tamang is a class apart from them.

“My district has a really good climate for different types of fruits and herbs and through my farm, I want to help everyone tap its potential.”

His focus is on kiwi these days. The idea is to sell the fruit in department stores across Nepal. “ If we look at the market, most of the kiwi we get is imported from New Zealand, and I want to change that statistic.”

In addition to kiwi, Tamang is thinking of marketing kiwi juice as well. He recently finished preliminary work to produce juice at his factory, and is aiming to market it next year after receiving the required official permits.

He believes there is a huge market for kiwi. With estimated 300 kiwi plants finally bearing fruit, he hopes to earn at least Rs 1.5 million from it.

In the next two years, he plans to grow 1,500 kiwi plants. His farm also has a nursery and with the increasing interest in kiwi farming, the neighbouring villagers have already booked around 1,250 kiwi plants for next year.

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For Tamang, becoming an agro-entrepreneur is not just about earning profits, it’s also about giving back to the community.

“The area that I live in has beautiful landscape for tea farming. My plan is to create a tea farming culture in Sailung integrated with agro-tourism. If people visit Ilam just to see the tea gardens, then they surely can come here as well.”

“If people visit Ilam just to see the tea gardens, then they surely can come here as well”

This, however, will take many years as well as a significant amount of investment. He says: I have been actively trying to seek loan from financial institutions.

“Everytime I approach a BFI for loans, they tell me that my plans are genuinely profitable, however, they cannot give me a loan since I don’t have land in Kathmandu!”

His tea farming project has a time span of 20 years. In the next seven years, 10 of his tea plants will produce 1 kg of tea, and the yield will increase in another 10-15 years. “ I don’t have any income from tea farming, I’ll have to wait for 7-8 years to receive even a fraction of income from tea. It’s a long-term project.”

“With kiwi and tea, I want to create a model for agro-tourism in the country. And that will be my legacy.”

At present, Tamang’s farm — ‘Sailung Agricultural Production Pvt Ltd’ — produces kiwi, cardamom, herbs and tea. The farm is adopting organic farming technology. For this, he also runs a goat and pig farm.

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Till date, he has invested Rs 10.2 million in his farm.

He employs seven full-time staffers at his farm, and offers seasonal employment to 20-30 people during the busy months.

When he’s not busy at his farm, he advises local farmers interested in fruits and herbs. He has also helped 3-4 people at his village start their own kiwi farms.

Rangdan Tamang is one of the top 10 entrepreneurs of the  Daayitwa Enterprise Challenge, Ramechhap 2015-16. 

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