SOLUKHUMBU, May 7: Three districts of Sagarmatha Zone -- Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, and Khotang -- have been found suitable for tea and coffee farming.
While the area north of Manebhanjhyang of Okhaldhunga till Tingla of Solukhumbu have been found suitable for tea farming, lower areas of these districts have been found appropriate for coffee cultivation. To exploit potentials of these areas, Nepal Tea and Coffee Development Board has initiated programs to start tea and coffee farming in the region.
Shesh Kanta Gautam, executive director of the board, said that they were conducting further studies and taking necessary steps to attract farmers toward tea and coffee farming.
After finding Solukhumbu appropriate for tea and coffee cultivation, the board has already set up its office at Thulung Dudhkoshi Rural Municipality. “We have built a 15-room office building with an investment of Rs 17.1 million. The office will look into production, processing and promotion of tea and coffee produced in the region,” Gautam added.
Rudra Kumari Baruwal, a local of the area provided four ropani of land to the board free of cost to build office building. “I provided the land as I felt that cultivation of cash crops like tea and coffee will provide us an alternative source of income generation,” Baruwal told Republica.
Local youths are also encouraged with the plan to start tea and coffee farming. “At a time when farm lands are being left barren, the prospect of professional tea and coffee farming is attractive to youth. This will also check the trend of youths leaving the country for greener pastures abroad,” Saurav Baruwa, a local youth of the area, told Republica.
Solukhumbu is already popular world over due to its tourism attractions. The newly discovered agricultural feasibility could create employment opportunities for these youths in their homeland. “Youths migrating to overseas job destinations can be retained in the country by providing them income generating activities. This is why we are launching tea and coffee farming programs,” Dr Yogendra Kumar Karki, joint secretary of the Ministry of Agricultural, Land Management and Cooperatives, told Republica.
“As per our plan to exploit the potential of locally available possibilities, we are planning to start coffee and tea cultivation in Solukhumbu,” he said, adding that the government will coordinate with farmers to develop nurseries for soil testing.