Speaker of Karnali Provincial Assembly Raj Bahadur Shahi observes a fish farm started by students of Janajyoti Secondary School in Surkhet in this recent picture. Photo: Nagendra Upadhaya/Republica
SURKHET, Aug 5: Sudip Sigdel of Solukhumbu has not completed higher secondary level of education yet. While he pays around 50,000 to the school for his 18-month course, he says that he has been able to earn more than that from his agricultural skills.
He is enrolled in the Junior Technical Assistant (JTA) course at the Janajyoti Secondary School of Surkhet.
“The school has given a piece of land for farming. Along with that, it has also provided a loan to start a business. What I earn now from it, suffices to pay the school’s fees, accommodation, and food. After making these payments, I save some extra money,” he said. “CTEVT courses like this are a boon for poor students like us.”
Sajan Niruala also came from Solulkhumbu to Surkhet for technical education. He is also pleased with the progress he has made. Along with them, Bishal Lamsal from Syangja is also equally elated.
The trio has been doing fish, mushroom, off-season vegetable and poultry farming within the school’s premises.
“In classrooms, we learn theories. And in our farms, we practice the lessons,” noted Sigdel. “It’s a kind of joint venture of us three.”
Just a few months ago, the team sold off vegetables worth Rs 50,000. Now they are readying to sell 3,000 fishes from their fish pond. And the number of broiler chicken in their farm has reached 200.
“We have earned over Rs 100,000 so far from our projects. Based on the projects that we are presently involved in, we expect our income to grow further,” stated Sigdel.
The three started farming just three months ago. According to Lamsal, working while still studying not only gives money but also helps them to understand things in the real world.
“Had we been just studying theories and not working in fields and then doing businesses, we would only read about how to earn money. But here we are into business already, and we are practically earning,” Lamsal said. “This education has made us entrepreneurs.”
The course will finish after a few months. After that, the trio is planning to get back to their respective villages to start up their businesses.
“When I first joined this course, I had planned to find a job after completing it. But now, I am thinking bigger. I am not going to search for a job anywhere, but I am planning to offer jobs to others,” Niraula announced. “There are many barren farms in my village. I will utilize those.”
Prem Sagar KC of Dullu, Dailekh district is also enrolled in the school’s JTA course. He has also started vegetable farming on a plot of land belonging to the Kohalpur Medical College.
“When I started cultivating this land, the quality of the soil was inferior. Over the months, I have been able to improve it significantly and started growing vegetables,” said KC.
KC has been growing vegetables in six bighas of land of the medical college. He has already earned over Rs 100,000 from his productions.
Other batch mates Ganesh Rijal, Ramesh Lamichhane and Kumar Khatri of several other villages have also been earning well from agriculture. Fish, poultry, and vegetable farming are popular among young entrepreneurs.
“You don’t need massive investment for starting such businesses. With little preparation and resources, you can start it,” remarked Rijal. “We all came here just for study; we thought that we would be able to start earning after completion of the course. However, we are amazed that we were wrong,” he said. “We are earning well.”
There are many other students at Janajyoti Secondary School whose life has changed due to this course. According to Ramesh Lamichhane, the best part of the course are the innovative farming techniques it teaches.
“We have been trying to utilize human and animal urine for organic farming. Similarly, we use animal dung in our farm for fertilizers,” he said.
The students are preparing to establish a urine collection center to use in farms as an alternative to chemical fertilizers and pesticide.
“Organic farming pays in two different ways. First, your product gets a better price in the market. Secondly, it improves the quality of the soil and is environment friendly,” said Lamichhane.
According to Narayan Sigdel, the school’s principal, agricultural skills are suitable for youths in the country due to the quality of land and climate. And because students are given the necessary support for their desired projects, maximum students have been able to implement their learnings and earn from it.
“We provide loan to students without any interest. The only thing we ensure is that they have the ability and sincerity,” he said.
Sigdel stated that there is Rs 1.5 million of fund which the school gives to students as loan. “As they payback, we are not in loss. Apart from that, we support them in every possible way.”