ILLAM, JULY 10: Farmers in the eastern part of the district depend on commercial vegetable farming. Although there are occasional problems in the sale of vegetables, most of the vegetables produced here are sold at high prices.
Farmers in Suryodaya-11 and 12 Municipalities and Rong Rural Municipality of the district are engaged in commercial vegetable farming. Farmers earn hundreds of thousands of rupees a month just by selling the vegetables produced on the Mechi highway to passers-by. Farmers earn a handsome income every year by selling produce like prickly pumpkin, cucumber, radish, potato, chili peppers, tomatoes, and japonica.
Farmers don’t have to travel far to sell their vegetables. “If there is a quality product, farmers don’t have to go to distant markets to sell vegetables,” says Ramesh Gadtaula, a farmer from Suryodaya-12 municipality. Ramesh also sells vegetables. He brings the vegetables produced here to the Terai market. “Right now, vegetables like cucumber, prickly pumpkin and japonica are being sold,” he said, adding that the price of cucumber has come down a bit.
According to him, farmers are now selling cucumbers for at least Rs 20 each. Farmers start producing cucumbers from April. “Initially, cucumbers produced here can cost up to Rs 100 each,” he said, adding that the price drops as production increases.
Most young people in the village of Malim in this district depend on market gardening. The number of young people seeking employment abroad in this village is low. Besides vegetables, tea farming, animal husbandry and grain farming are the main sources of income for farmers here, but as the economic situation has improved due to income from vegetables, grain farming has gradually declined.
Many farmers earn hundreds of thousands of rupees a year from vegetable farming. In view of their hard work in agriculture, governmental and non-governmental organizations have also helped them. Farmers have a saying: “A farmer should be honest and hardworking, the financial investment for farming will be managed. Madan Rai from Aathghare is an example that these words and experiences are factual. Madan Rai, who planted vegetables including tomatoes on a small farm two decades ago, has become an exemplary farmer not only in the village but also in the neighborhood. When the air, water and soil were enough for him, he drew good income from them. He decided to grow only vegetables by destroying other crops. Initially, he rented land to plant vegetables.
Today, he is not only known in the district for his vegetable crops, but he has also been awarded several times as “Best Vegetable Farmer”.
Dipesh Rai, Binod Gadtaula, Man Bahadur Rai, Birkh Rai, Mitra Rai and others from the same village earn good income from vegetable gardening. Farmers planted cabbage, cauliflower, tomatoes, peppers and other crops. Even young people with higher education are attracted to market gardening in the village rather than other forms of employment and trade. Mitra Rai, a local graduate, and Deepesh Rai, who had opened a photo studio in Jhapa for some time, also returned to the village and took up vegetable gardening. Even Ram Rai, who returned from a job abroad, did not go abroad again because of the vegetable gardening he started in the village.
The farmers here are also exemplary in animal husbandry. Farmers from far and wide come here to seek improved breeds of cows in the district.
According to a local, Pushpa Adhikari, a single calf is sold for up to Rs 150,000. “There are good breeds of cows in this village,” he said. “I also breed cows that give up to 20 liters of milk a day and are expensive.”
There are farmers in the district who sell vegetables worth up to 1.2-1.5 million rupees per year. Farmers in Ilam and Deumai municipalities and Maijogmai and Sandakpur villages produced vegetables such as mustard, potato, non-seasonal cucumber, bean, radish, coriander, onion and garlic in this season. Many of them sell vegetables from home.
Vegetables from here reach Charali and Birtamod markets in Jhapa. Vegetables produced in the Pashupatinagar area of Suryodaya were also sold in the Indian market. Local traders transport vegetables collected from farmers to nearby markets.
Farmers in the district grow vegetables for commercial purposes in groups and individually. According to the Agricultural Knowledge Centre, 350 farmer groups have been formed in the district for vegetable farming and 250 for non-seasonal vegetable farming. According to the Centre, 25 farmer groups have been formed in the district for potato cultivation alone.
Farmers mainly produce vegetables out of season. “If the government helps in the production and marketing of vegetables, many farmers in the district will not have to do other work to find employment,” says farmer Madan Rai. “The government must encourage the farmers”.