Many young people in Nepal are seeing farming as the path to prosperity and making it a business.
For many youth in Nepal, traditional farming is not viewed as the path to prosperity that it was for their parents’ generation.
Sat Narayan and Rejina Chaudhary, a young couple in Kailali, Nepal, once felt the same way. Both 25 years old, Sat Narayan and Rejina initially started farming the traditional way on a small piece of land. They consumed most of what they produced. Low-quality seed varieties and outdated production and post-harvest methods led to low yields. The couple often had little left over to sell. Like most farmers, the couple lacked the knowledge of and access to modern farming technologies — limiting their potential to grow more food and earn more money.
After receiving support from R.H. Agrovet, a Feed the Future private sector partner in Nepal, Sat Narayan and Rejina’s commercial vegetable farming operation — Archana Baba Agriculture Farm — kicked into high gear.
“It has been about a year since we scaled up our farming activities using new seed varieties, training and agriculture equipment,” Sat Narayan said. “We have been able to increase our vegetable production and sales in the market.”
R.H. Agrovet provides free advice on modern farming to farmers visiting the shop to purchase inputs, like seeds and other farming equipment. Working in partnership with Feed the Future, the company is helping farmers like Sat Narayan and Rejina to adopt modern farming practices like tunnel farming and the use of high-quality, government-approved seeds. At the same time R.H. Agrovet is also helping connect farmers to suppliers to establish reliable market supply chains for selling the produce. For instance, a technical advisor regularly visited the couple’s farm to oversee the crop growth and provide advice. This helped Sat Narayan and Rejina to access new markets, increase their income and clear a pathway to a prosperous new future for their family.
Recognizing their newfound business potential, the young couple began selling their vegetables in the market. The couple now grows bottle bitter gourd, cucumber, okra and beans, while making three times more on their return since working with R.H. Agrovet. With their income from commercial vegetable farming, Sat Narayan and Rejina plan to save money for their son’s future and build a concrete house for themselves to live comfortably.
“My friends are excited to hear my success story in this short time; they are interested to learn off-season vegetable farming and find [a] market for its premium price,” Sat Narayan said.
Sat Narayan and Rejina recently expanded to more than 1 acre of land, nearly half the size of a rugby field, using their profits to install 11 plastic tunnels for off-season vegetable farming. They earned US$1,577 from their recent vegetable farming season, and with the additional income, they have paid off the initial loans to start the business from a local bank. In addition, the Agriculture Knowledge Center of the Government of Nepal provided Sat Narayan and Rejina subsidies to buy machinery like a power tiller.
“We heard from R.H. Agrovet about the benefits of this mini-tiller and subsidies from the local government,” Rejina said. “After a few months we bought the mini-tiller using the money from our vegetables sales. This is so easy and has reduced the labor cost and saves us time.”
Young farmers like Sat Narayan and Rejina are the future of agriculture in Nepal, and private sector entrepreneurs are recognizing the new opportunities that a changing agriculture sector offers. Partnering with Feed the Future has helped R.H. Agrovet nearly double its customer base to 1,000 farmers. As a result of the increased demand for improved seeds and inputs, the company’s sales and income have also nearly doubled.
When private enterprises like R.H. Agrovet thrive, youth can reap the benefits. Feed the Future works with more than 100 private sector partners to strengthen agricultural markets and create opportunities for young farmers. From advice to financial investment, young people such as Sat Narayan and Rejina are discovering that a productive, profitable and prosperous future in farming is within their reach.
Feed the Future Knowledge-based Integrated Sustainable Agriculture in Nepal (KISAN) II, implemented by Winrock International, is funded by USAID as part of the U.S. Government Feed the Future initiative. KISAN II coordinates closely with the private sector and Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, targeting vegetables, rice, maize, lentil, and goat farming households and private sector actors in 21 districts in the provinces 5, 6 and 7 in the West, Mid-West and Far-West regions, and 4 earthquake-affected districts in province 3. By employing an enterprise-driven approach, KISAN II strengthens market capacity and relationships through partnerships with buyers, processors, traders, cooperatives, agrovets, and financial institutions, which in turn builds the capacity of producers and links intermediaries, service providers, input suppliers, and smallholder farmers to end markets to produce a competitive, inclusive, resilient, and profitable supply.