Farmers in Jumla harvesting beans from their farm in this recent picture.
JUMLA, Jan 21: Lal Bahadur Budha of Sanigaun village sells at least 10 quintal of beans every year. He has been farming and selling beans nearly for a decade now. Earlier he had to walk to the headquarters to sell off his produce and that would take him more than a day. The trip would be so costly that he would hardly have any profits left. Thanks to the local road connection, Budha now has the privilege to sell his beans right from his farm. No penny is spent on transportation. He is a rich man now.
“Beans produced here are considered very tasty and are in high demand. Earlier, we had to spend a lot of money just for transporting them to the market. The trip would cost us all the profit we made producing and selling the beans,” he said. “But the road has changed this.”
Budha makes over Rs 100,000 by selling beans alone annually. Apart from that he also produces other types of vegetables in his farm and rearing cattle. “Beans are the biggest source of my family’s income.”
Ratan Shahi of Narakot VDC was limited to herbs farming. After seeing people making good profit out of bean farming, he imitated. That indeed turned out to be a right decision for him, he shared with a smile. “I can sell beans for Rs 100 right in the village. Bit poor quality beans yield around Rs 50 per kg,” he informed. “Traders come to our doorstep for buying the beans. This has enabled us to just focus on producing them,” he added.
Another bean farmer is Dil Bahadur Bohora of Malikathata who’s making it big through the vegetable. He says he does not buy rice and other grains, but instead trades them with beans. “If I give one sack of beans, I get two sacks of rice,” said Bohora. “Whatever I need, these beans buy it for me. They are hot currency,” he added.
The bean farmers give sole credit of their prosperous life to the road connectivity. Though beans were grown even earlier, supplying them to market was a challenge. If not sold freshly, the vegetable would begin to rot. After roads were connected to several villages of the district during the last few years, things began to change. Exponential expansion of the bean business is one of them.
Bohora was of the opinion that the government should continue focusing on expanding the road network across the district while also upgrading them. “With the expanded road network, the district residents will be able to sell their produce to the national market. There is huge demand in the market for the beans produced here and I am sure we will benefit from this demand in the days ahead too,” he said.
Since roads reached villages traders have reached to the farmers’ fields to buy the beans on the spot and load them into trucks and head out for the market. Everything has been so hassle free, farmers say.
According to Balakram Devkota, planning officer at the District Agriculture Office, basically three colors of beans are grown in Jumla. All the three, red, black and mixed colors of beans are typical and quite different in taste, he said.
“Beans are differentiated on the basis of their color. Beans produced here have been found to be very rich in protein and other minerals,” he said. “People who love these beans claim that they can work as substitute to meat,” he added.
Devkota said that even the locals are very fond of the beans. Due to the taste and the nutrition it gives, beans are the most liked food in Jumla these days,
Bean farming is now backbone of farmers’ economy in Jumla, Devkota stated. “A farmer produces from 50 to 500 kg of beans in average. It is now regarded as the backbone of district’s economy,” he said. “In the local market, it is sold for up to Rs 200 per kg while the farmers sell it to traders between Rs 50 to Rs 100 normally.”
An interesting thing noticed by Devkota is that bean farming has empowered women in Jumla. Since they are directly involved in farming, they are making good money from it, he said.
“Women’s economic freedom from bean farming is evident. It has employed them and the high market value has enabled them to earn for their families,” he opined. He informed that beans worth Rs 400 million is produced annually in Jumla and half of this is supplied out of the district.