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Ramechhap’s veggie grower: I don’t go to the market, the market comes to me!

“ I would carry my vegetables on a doko to the bazaar. I would go up to people and ask if they’d want to buy my vegetables. Some people would make me wait for a long time only to tell me that they didn’t want it. Those moments were really embarrassing.”

Until a couple of years ago, Sabitra Ghimire of Manthali-1, Ramechhap, used to ask her husband why he had to work the farm the whole day.

“He’d always carry his tools and head to the farm. From early morning till late at night, he’d be working at the farm. I couldn’t understand how toiling in the mud every day would benefit the family.”

After starting her own multi-purpose farm few years ago, Ghimire now thinks she understands.

The former ‘housewife’,  who spent most of her working days doing family chores,  used to occasionally help her husband at the farm. But she was immersed in her household work to such an extent that although it seemed she didn’t have a job, she was busy all the time.

She also took care of her own kitchen garden.

One fine day, Ghimire remembers vividly, her husband suggested that she get trained in commercial agriculture. Her husband was toying with the idea of going abroad for work, as the family found it difficult to sustain with their own produce.

“Instead of him (my husband) going abroad for work, we decided that we’d take up commercial farming.”

That decision turned the family’s life on its head.

Ghimire received training in organic farming and animal husbandry. During the training sessions, she understood how organic farming was healthier and more environment-friendly than what her husband had been doing. She also realised that the market for organic produce was big. With the help of her husband, Ghimire started the Multiple Agricultural and Animal Farm in 2010.

“Instead of him (my husband) going abroad for work, we decided that we’d take up commercial farming.” 

During the early days, Ghimire had a difficult time finding a market for her produce.

She says: “I would carry my vegetables on a doko to the bazaar. I would go up to people and ask if they’d want to buy my vegetables. Some people would make me wait for a long time, only to tell me that they didn’t want it. Those moments were really embarrassing.”

ghimire
“My customer base now includes a lot of people, including government officials from whom I received training,” exclaims Ghimire.

But she persevered, and her husband too supported her in her venture. He would go with her to the market (Manthali Bazaar), and to various offices, and people’s homes to market her produce.

It was only a matter of time before the market, literally, started coming to them for their produce!

Expansion of roads to her village also helped her cause. It helped cut down on the transport cost and also made it possible for prospective buyers to come to her farm directly.

With an increasing client base, she slowly expanded her farm. From one cow, she got six. An entrepreneur’s move to establish a dairy in the locality also helped.

“My customer base now includes a lot of people including government officials from whom I received training,” exclaims Ghimire.

Earlier, she would only grow seasonal vegetables but after receiving training on vegetable farming, she started using tunnel farming techniques, which made it possible for her to farm off-season vegetables too. This increased her profits.

“My customer base now includes a lot of people including government officials from whom I received training,” exclaims Ghimire.

She even employs local people as hired help on daily wages. At present, given the small scale operation, she and her husband take care of the farm themselves.  But within a couple of years, she wants to expand her business for which she plans to get a large plot of land on lease.

She is happy that the income from her farm makes it possible for her to take care of her family’s expenditure, including the fees of her children.

These days, Sabitra, who was one of  Daayitwa’s Top 10 entrepreneur for the Daayitwa Enterprise Challenge, 2015-16, can be found busy at the farm, managing each and every aspect of her business. The idea of being self-employed, and self-dependent as a woman entrepreneur fuels her zeal to do better.

 

The author is associated with Daayitwa.

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