Buoyed by prospects, West Rukum locals embrace nettleThe natural fibre is being traded at a price of Rs 125 per kilogram.
A few years ago, the Himalayan nettle also known as Allo plant, grown in Badgaun would rot in the forests.
With the establishment of a processing plant, the situation has turned around and locals are reaping the benefits by trading products made from the non-timber plant whose extract is used as a weaving thread for shawls, blankets, bags and clothes.
Locals Prem Lal KC and Dhurba KC were the first to trade Allo in the region as they hauled it to make ropes. Now, the denizens of Badgaun have established a plant with an investment of Rs1 million to produce thread, fibre and other readymade goods from the natural fibre.
The move to establish the Allo factory has come in line with the higher profits gained from trading products made from Allo, usually found in the highlands.
After the establishment of the Red Panda Allo Processing and Carpet Factory, locals are acquiring basic training on operating the machinery with Rs700,000 in grants from the provincial government of Karnali and Rs300,000 investment from the locals.
The natural fibre is being traded at a price of Rs125 per kilogram.
According to Ram Bahadur Pun, president of the plant’s operation committee, the key stakeholders of the plant are receiving basic training and the factory has procured 24 kilograms of Allo in the first phase of operations.
“Purchase of equipment and training 11 group members with a stake in the plant and other locals is being carried out simultaneously,” said Pun. “We established the plant as the raw material was readily available in the local forests.”
Those members and denizens who have acquired knowledge on processing the nettle and thread cutting have begun learning weaving techniques.
The factory is the first of its kind in the northwestern region of the district which sees abundant growth of the non-timber plant.
“Although we had heard about the plant, we were unbeknownst to its importance and usage in the craft business,” said Dhurba KC. “We used to make ropes from Allo for household purposes but we sold it for the first time after the plant began operations.”
Four regions in Bafikot ward-5 witness ample growth of the nettle with plentiful harvests in the pasturelands during the rainy season.
Although the plant grows in other regions of the ward and almost all areas north of Aathbiskot municipality, the natural fibre decays in forests each year for lack of awareness and a processing plant in the region.
"The plant in Badgaun has also set sights at processing Allo from the untapped regions and begin producing garments," said man Kumari Bista, a founding member of the plant. "We have come together to establish the plant to become self-employed.”
The district headquarters houses a processing plant but it has been fetching the raw material for processing and weaving only from the eastern region of the district.
“The newly established plant will make full use of the raw fibre and create employment in the district,” said Tirtha Pun, a local.