Yamkumari Bista a farmer in Sakhejung village in her kiwi farm in this recent picture. Bhim Chapagain/Republica
ILAM, July 8: Tekbahadur Bista of Sakhejung village has been farming kiwi for the last seven years. When he started, Bista had no exact idea how well his new venture would pay him off.
He just concentrated on the efforts he needed to make for ensuring good production of kiwi. Seven years down the line, Bista is a rich and proud farmer in the town.
He is an inspirational figure for many who have followed his suite and embraced kiwi farming as a way of life. It is a brisk business that everyone is trying to get into. “I earn very good money. It’s rewarding indeed,” beams the successful farmer. “Around 14 to 20 kiwi fruit weighs one kg,” he added.
He has farmed kiwi in 15 ropanis of land which has around 230 kiwi plants. A plant produces upto 200 kg of kiwi. He estimates that he would be able to pluck around 150 quintal of kiwi this time, so far the highest.
Last year, he had made 40 quintal of kiwi though a year before that he had harvested 60 quintal of kiwi. “Kiwi gives good return in a year-gap,” said Bista’s wife Yamkumari, who has also equally toiled hard in grooming the kiwi business.
“Two years back we had a good kiwi harvest, but last year it was lower than that. In the past also we have found this trend, where in a year the produce is greater and it falls next year,” she shared while also expressing happiness that this year is a good harvest year and they expect the harvest to be around 150 quintal.
Selling this year’s expected yield at the rate of Rs 300 per kg the couple’s net earning is expected to be around Rs 4.5 million, which is nearly 4 lakh per month.
Prior to jumping into kiwi farming, the couple was involved in farming various herbs and cash crops. But, nothing became as attractive as kiwi in terms of earning. “We used to farm maize, wheat, cardamom etc, but after knowing that kiwi farming needs little investment but gives huge return there was no point in sticking to what we were doing,” Yamkumari said
In the first year of kiwi farming, the couple had earned little amount, but in the last seven years, their earnings have soared. Kiwi buds around April-May and it takes around 6 months for the fruit to ripe. It gives a single yield per year but as it has high demand in the market, selling and storing it is quite easy. “Once the fruit is ripe, you can either sell it or store it. You don’t need cold store for storing this fruit and that is a great advantage. It takes six months for the fruit to ripe but it keeps you in business for the next months,” says Yamkumari.
When Bista couple had started to farm kiwi, a single sapling would cost Rs 600. However, over the years due to better supply and availability of the plant in the market, its price has gone down, Bista informed.
He is presently expanding his expertise and is trying to build a unit for processing kiwi. He has already procured a piece of land for it. Apart from that, he has added some family assets too, which includes plots of land in Jhapa and Kathmandu for residential purpose. He says he is not much worried about his finances these days as he knows that kiwi is going to give him good return as long as he takes their care.
Their son, Ganga went a step ahead and acquired specialized training for kiwi farming. He feels that the training has been imperative in honing their kiwi farming skills and boosting kiwi production. “If we can take care of the tree while trimming it, it gives far better yield” said Ganga, who nowadays trains others. “Along with farmers in my district I have given kiwi farming training in Solukhumbu, Khotang, Bhojpur and Sankhuwasabha,” he added.
Bista said that they have received a demand of demand for 30,000 kg of kiwi from China. Kiwi farming is popular not only in Sakhegunj but is fast spreading across the district. According to the data of District Agricultural Office, 40 metric ton kiwi was produced in the district in the last two years.
Even though Bista has gained fame, he is not the first person to try hands at kiwi farming. Taramani Khatiwada, a retired government employee, was the one who had started it a decade ago. Khatiwada’s earning from the farm last year was around Rs 700,000. Now kiwi farming is seen in Jamuna, Sumbek, Mabu, Panchakanya and Sakhejung, among other parts of the district.
Organizations like JICA and ICOMOD has helped farmers in the production of Kiwi that is exported to various countries including Europe and America.