Phidim locals elated as red clay trade shinesDemand for the soil has been increasing not only within Panchthar but also from neighbouring districts like Tehrathum, Taplejung, and Ilam.
As the festive season starts, locals of Phidim are busy gathering red mud, traditionally used to adorn the walls of houses and puja kothas during Dashain, Tihar, Chhath and other festivals.
The red clay sourced from the district headquarters of Panchthar is reputed to possess a unique radiance, attracting individuals from near and far to travel to the municipality to procure the clay.
The fields in Charkhambe, Ratomate, and Bhadaure in Phidim, once considered infertile and unproductive areas, have now become profitable for the locals as demand for the clay steadily rises.
The soil is sold for Rs100 per bag with labourers earning Rs20 as daily wage. Workers say they pocket upwards of Rs1,000 per day. According to the locals, the business has generated each family annual profits of up to Rs500,000.
While approximately 15 families in the area have been relying on the income generated from the trade, more than 50 individuals have received employment opportunities.
According to Mira Gurung, a local trader, demand for the soil has been increasing not only within Panchthar but also from neighbouring districts like Tehrathum, Taplejung, and Ilam. This has led individuals even without lands to start leasing fields to engage in the red mud trade.