There is no loss in agriculture, says a Banke farmer

Published On: December 8, 2019 10:27 AM NPT By: Kamal Khatri

BANKE, Dec 8: “There is no loss in the occupation of agriculture. It may not give you big money, but there is no loss," is what Lal Bahadur Khatri, a farmer based in Khajura in Banke, thinks. 

"If there is good market management and if the government controls the customs properly, there is a good prospect of income," he says.

According to Khatri, tomato of Abhilash variety can be grown eight to ten kilos in a single plant, which is sold for Rs 20 to Rs 25. From one bigha land, Rs one million can be earned, according to him.       

Khatri is now 61 years old and lives in Khajura. He also runs a bee-farm, and rears livestock such as boar, poultry and goat. Fifty meters away from his house, he does tomato farming in three bigha land with modern methods.

According to Khatri, it is the problem of Banke, Bardiya and other districts of the tarai region that people cannot utilize their barren land for agriculture. Market, equipment, and modern farming skill are the main challenges faced by Nepali farmers in agriculture. 

"There are challenges in agriculture like everywhere else, and the challenges will never stop," says Khatri. "But you can overcome these challenges and become a good commercial farmer."       

Khatri's identity is changing in the village. He studied agriculture and worked as a Junior Technical Assistant (JTA) and a teacher for few years. He also worked as a banker with Agriculture Development Bank, and it has already been four years since he retired from the bank. Now he is well known as a commercial farmer in Banke.

Villagers come to his place to learn about farming. According to Khatri, a professional approach is needed in the field of agriculture. He is sure that agriculture will strengthen the economy of the country in future and for that the new generations must take initiation in this area. 

Last year, he sold 1,800 quintal tomatoes. This year, he has a target to sell 2,500 quintal tomatoes. He has already started selling tomatoes and he sends his produce to Nepalgunj to sell for Rs 40 per kilo. Tomatoes are sold in retail for Rs 80 to Rs 90 per kilo in Nepalgunj, due to middlemen. This worries Khatri, who says: "Agricultural marketing is not favorable to farmers due to middleman. There is no mechanism to control these middlemen, and the government also has not shown any interest."

Like Khatri there are other farmers who are hard working and have made Banke independent in vegetables. According to statistics of Agriculture Office Banke, vegetable farming is done in 6,729 hectare land of Banke, in which 74,013 metric tons of vegetables are produced. The produced vegetables are consumed in the district and also exported to other districts. Right now, the district consumes 53,797 metric tons of vegetables and the rest 20,221 metric tons are exported to other districts and even to India.

The production of agriculture products is increasing but the problems of farmers are not decreasing. Nepali farmers need to compete with Indian market. In India, farmers are provided free water for irrigation, seeds, fertilizer, equipments and support from government in the market. The investment of farmers is low and production is more. According to Khatri, support from government in the agriculture sector can make Nepal independent in vegetables.

The main problem for Nepali farmers is market. The market is in the hand of middlemen. “Farmers do not get the due amount for their investment. The half of the amount is taken away by middlemen in a single day,” said Khatri, “Customers need to buy vegetables at high prices. If the government could stop this act of middlemen, it would provide great benefit to farmers and also the consumers."

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