Veggie farming raises rural living standardsBhagiram Chaudhari of Shanti Tol, Kanchanpur barely earned enough money to feed his family for six months of the year. He and his family had to work on other people’s farms to survive the rest of the year.
Bhagiram Chaudhari of Shanti Tol, Kanchanpur barely earned enough money to feed his family for six months of the year. He and his family had to work on other people’s farms to survive the rest of the year.
Chaudhari’s fortunes have changed. Now he employs farm hands to work in his field, and his output has swelled.
Prosperity came to Chaudhari after he started growing vegetables some 10-12 years ago. He has also bought a piece of land where he has built a new house for his family.
“Previously, we barely had enough to eat,” said Chaudhari, “But now there is enough money to send your kids to school and spend on other things.”
Hard working farmers like Chaudhari are a symbol of the Tharu village near the Mohana River. The village, covered in greenery, houses 80-90 Tharu families where each of them grows vegetables.
Families in Shanti Tol grow vegetables on huge swathes of land ranging from 15 katthas to 2-3 bighas. In this village where vegetable farming is done 12 months of the year, most families have their own land and those that do not lease land.
“The last 10-15 years have seen an amazing growth in vegetable farming here,” said Ramkishan Chaudhari, a local farmer, “This is how families earn their livelihood.”
There has been a significant improvement in the living standard of the Tharu village, where people have moved out of their traditional mud cabins into concrete houses. A farming family earns more than Rs500,000-Rs700,000 annually.
Shanti Tol exports 20 quintals of vegetables daily to Kailali, Gota, Kohalpur and Butwal. They include tomato, cauliflower, bitter gourd, pumpkin and radish.
“In a good season, a family can sell up to 10-12 quintals of vegetables,” said Ratan Chaudhari, another local farmer. “Sometimes, there is a risk of vegetables going to waste due to overproduction.”
According to Chaudhari, tomatoes lay rotting in the fields last year because of lack of buyers.
Currently, farmers here are in the process of planting summer crops. By constantly switching vegetables, they are able to ensure proper production throughout the year.
Farmers have been asking the state to build a bridge over the Mohana River as it will become very difficult for them to transport heavy loads after the rainy season sets in.
“Sometimes, we have to carry our produce on bicycles and it is very difficult,” said Bhagiram Chaudhari. “If we cannot send our vegetables to market on time, sometimes there is a lot of waste.”