KATHMANDU, Aug 30: Aware about the government authorities' failure to stop pesticide-laced vegetables from reaching the market, and ultimately to their kitchens, many people are consciously choosing to buy organic vegetables.
Every Saturday, from 9AM to 12AM, people who love organic vegetables flock the premises of Tara Gaon Development Committee, where organic farmers sell their produces.
The vegetable stalls at the museum premises of Tara Gaon Development Committee near Chabahil have been selling pesticides-free vegetables since August 1, 2015. The market was set up in coordination with the Himgiri Eco-Friendly Agriculture Co-operative Ltd (HEACOP).
Anil Budhathoki, 40, from Chuchepati, visits the market once a week to buy organic products. “I am confident that these organic products are free from harmful chemicals and pesticides. Moreover, they taste good and cook faster. I feel scared to buy vegetables from other markets,” he said.
Budhathoki suggested that there should be a regular supply of organic products so that they can be available for all people.
He is of the view that the government should introduce programs to help farmers switch to producing vegetables following organic methods.
“However, the government seems to be doing little to discourage farmers from growing and sending hazardous produces to the markets,” he added.
Although there are around 55 stalls registered with HEACOP, only between 15 and 30 stalls sell their vegetables at the agro fair every week.
Around 100 to 200 people, including foreigners, visit the stalls to buy organic vegetables.
The products sold at the stalls include a variety of organic products ranging vegetables, salad, fruits, dairy products, eggs, etc.
Yuva Limbu, 42, owner of Chelsea Bio-Farm located at Gothatar, said, "I earn up to 5,000 rupees per day just by selling tomato."
“This is my 56th weeks of selling organic products here," said Bimala Acharya, one of the stall keepers.
Demand for organic products is very high in market, according to the farmers. “But the production is low because fewer farmers are involved in organic farming,” they said.
People from different places have requested HEACOP to open stalls in their areas such as Jhamshikhel, Gongabu, Satdobato, etc. “We are planning to open stalls at Gongabu soon and then at other places as well,” said Kapil Prajapati, secretary of HEACOP.
“The low production of organic food compared to the soaring demand is the main reason why we have not been able to expand the business,” he added.
According to Prajapati, the vegetables are brought to HEACOP stalls from places like Kathmandu, Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, Chitwan, Palpa, Karnali and Rasuwa.