BALEWA, Dec 11: A Cooperatives at Kushmishera of Jaimini Municipality-1 in Baglung district has spearheaded a campaign to protect the seedlings of quinoa and promote its commercial farming in the district.
Phalante Agriculture Cooperatives started commercial farming of nutrient-rich quinoa, junelo, in the locality which has turned the barren land into green and vibrant. Cooperative's chairperson Moti Prasad Sharma shared that quinoa seeds were sowed across 15 ropani of land (on a lease) at Jhabri Khet of Kusmishera.
Sown in May, the three farmers associated with the Cooperatives are currently harvesting the crop and the harvest has begun yielding profits, informed Sharma.
The indigenous crop was once a staple food among people in hilly and mountainous area in the country. Later, it was replaced by other crops, posing risk of extinction.
Quinoa crop yields within 60 days of sowing and can be grown in less irrigated land. Its usage is multiple and thus can be consumed as snacks in winter as well as for prasad in religious functions.
Farmers are enthused to take up commercial farming of quinoa that was once stopped being cultivated in Jaimini Municipality. Lack of human resources and lack of farmers' interest in its cultivation had pushed the crop on the verge of extinction. "We aim to produce 8 quintals of quinoa this year. We have already harvested the crop this year and we are producing as per our target," Sharma gushed.
The seedlings of quinoa were procured from Ramechhap district for Rs 100,000. The Cooperatives is now seeking market for its produce while demand for quinoa seeds in the district was also surging lately.
The members of Cooperatives voluntarily extend helping hand to farmers for sowing, weeding and pruning as well as irrigating the quinoa field, informed Cooperative's treasurer Tri Bikram Acharya. The profit yielded from this year's harvest will be used to increase capital of Cooperatives, treasurer Acharya divulged. The members will receive income fairly and squarely after deducting the production cost from the profit made from the quinoa farming, he added.
Jaimini Municipality Mayor Nar Bahadur Pun commended the Cooperatives' quinoa seed conservation bid as well as its commercial farming. The Cooperatives is considering farming and branding millet and buckwheat that are organic and protein-rich.
Agriculture Knowledge Centre, Baglung's Chief Bhanubhakta Bhattarai assured that farmers would fetch more income if quinoa production is boosted to the commercial scale.