Bhim Chapagain Madhav Paudel selling vegetables grown in his farm, Deu Kumar Rai tending to saplings in his organic farm, and Purna Gurung in his kiwi farm in Illam in these recent pictures.
ILAM, April 1: Some returnee migrant workers in Ilam have set examples. They are not going to go back, but are instead working happily on their enterprises. “We are using the skills learned abroad. This is getting quite rewarding,” said Madhav Paudel of Ilam Municipality. “We are happy. There's huge scope for growth at home.”
As a child, Poudel was very ambitious. He wanted to earn a lot of money. This dream took him to Malaysia when he was in his late teen. He worked in the country for over two years but whatever he earned was spent in one or the other thing. “I was not able to save anything while I was working in Malaysia. I spent it in or another thing.”
I was a little nervous in the beginning. But I put all my heart and soul into the business. Now, money is not a big deal for me. I am earning pretty well. - Madhav Paudel, a Malaysia returnee
He got frustrated. He brainstormed ideas for launching his own business at home. One day, he decided to return home and try something of his own. “I used to work in farms in Malaysia. I had learned a few farming skills,” he stated.
After getting back to the village, he did some homework to start a business. He began with a poultry farm. The modern techniques that he had learned in Malaysia proved to be a boon for him.
“I was little nervous in the beginning. But I put all my heart and soul into the business. Now, money is not a big deal for me. I am earning pretty well,” he said delightfully.
There are many returnee migrants in Ilam these days who are working actively in several sectors including agriculture, construction, hotel and hospitality, interior decoration and fashion. Apart from the skills, discipline at work is something they report to have learned in foreign countries.
“Here in Nepal, we don't believe in hard work. We work lazily. But that's unthinkable if you are working in foreign countries,” said Puran Gurung, of Sandakpur Village. The ex-Gurkha added that the second inning of his life is even more exciting and that is his role as a farmer.
“I had learned some farming skills in the past. It turned out to be very fruitful,” Gurung said while showing his irresistible Kiwi Garden.
According to Gurung, if one tries, Nepal is the best place for agriculture. Climate and soil make it very rewarding. “Today, I wish I would not have worked abroad for so many years. That was such a waste of time,” he said.
His Kiwi farm has not engaged him alone. There are dozens of workers who are equally busy with the business. “I have been able to give employment to many. I am earning very well at home. This work keeps you physically fit. What else you need?”
After retiring from the army, he visited many parts of India and other countries. Wherever he went, he tried to learn to farm. And that paid off. “I always had a kind of inclination towards farming. It's a very nice profession,” he said.
Though Kiwi farm is his main business, he also runs a home-stay, dairy, fishery, and a cardamom farm.
“I had started with Kiwi farming eight years ago. Gradually, I extended my areas of intervention,” he said. Kiwi is high in demand. In a year, he makes around Rs 1.5 million in profits. Gurung sells not just the fruit but also its saplings. “Many others are also getting interested in this farming,” he said.
RB Rai of Ilam Municipality – 5 also has a success story to share. After returning from Saudi Arab nine years ago, his life changed for the good.
“In Saudi Arabia, you have to work very very hard. If that much effort is invested here, you can do wonders,” he said. He used to work in a garage there. That taught him about automobiles. After returning home, he got busy in the same work. “I started earning far better than what I would make there,” said the happy man. “I have brought my car, house, also has some bank balance now.” Rai has also provided job to dozens of people as he now owns a garage.
Another success story of Deu Kumar Rai is equally exciting. After working for the British Army for 18 years, he switched to cash crop farming after returning home. “I started organic farming nine years ago, today I am a rich man,” he beamed.
Spotting the likes of Rai, Gurung, and Poudel is not a taxing job in Ilam. As such people have set examples, fewer youths here are now showing a zeal to abroad.
“But if you go once, you will at least learn the value of time and hard work. Or else, you will always remain lazy,” quips Poudel.