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Sustainable production and collective marketing – A way out for farmers

Krishna Rai is an exemplary farmer and an innovative entrepreneur. His farm which carpets over a hectare of land is a magnificent model of a “forest ecosystem”, in a sense that, everything is integrated into a mutual bond in a surprisingly beneficial way. The crop-livestock integration is done beautifully.

A plastic fish pond, housing 1,000 fishes, greets a visitor’s entrance along a long stretch of around 10 meters. From there onwards, one can amuse himself at the view of pigs, each weigh over 300 kilograms. Attributing to location of his farm in hill slope – moving downwards – we can find bottles hanging along with syringe pipes, which are the drip irrigators for his pot plants. Behind the mini-kitchen garden, there is an 8,000 litre plastic pond with duck weed floating on surface, which is a feed for pigs and ducks. Ducks feed on pigs’ excreta while mitigating the production of mosquito larvae in the process.

There are few greenhouse tunnels where tomatoes are grown, intercropped with Chinese cabbage and cauliflower. Pumpkins and bitter gourds are suspended above tomatoes. On the west side, ducks, chickens and turkeys are reared.

Krishna Rai owns 10 cows. Milk is sold and cow dung is used for producing biogas. The bio-slurry is used to make vermi-compost.  With so many integrated enterprises, from a hectare farm, Mr Rai reaps a monthly net income of around $ 2,000, which is almost ten times the income of an average household.”

Facing the cowshed are the toilets. “From farm to stomach, from stomach to farm” is written on toilets. Stool and urine are collected and stored in different containers and are converted into powerful fertilizers. Human and animal excretions make up the fertilizer bank of Mr Rai, which is converted to vermi compost, vermic tea, fertilizer capsules and liquid fertilizers while powering bio-gas as well. In this way, every kind of organic waste is efficiently converted into powerful fertilizers completing the bio-cycle with optimum utilization of available resources.

“There is a light bulb hanging over the pond. Everyone asks why? No one might have guessed it correct, as, to everyone’s surprise, it is used to attract insects at night. When insects die, fishes feed on them,” says Krishna Rai. To combat pests & insects, he makes bio-pesticides out of neem (Azadirachtaindica), Garden cress as well as other pungent smelling plant varieties. Additionally, he reports, “human/animal urine is super effective in repelling pests & insects”.

Light bulb hung over pond to attract insects

Mr Rai has invested two decades of his life on converting the land into organic habitat and flaunts his organic badge on his shoulders. He is also the CEO of Sotang Agriculture Farm & Research Centre. Mr Rai has pioneered organic farming in his village. Also, with his leadership qualities he has been able to motivate other farmers to adopt organic farming methods. The village is also tagged as “Research Centre” as continuous research, innovations and improvements are being made with respect to efficient and effective farming techniques. Collective marketing has empowered the whole village as this community is an example of how agriculture can transform lives. Illam, the hilly district in East Nepal, embarking on sustainable production and collective marketing of cash crops, is among the most prosperous districts in Nepal. It has the distinction of having the lowest migration rate and lowest rate of poverty in Nepal. In Rai’s own words, “Proper technique bolstered by market power is a way out for farmers.”

The story was shared by Mr. Raj Uprety, Monitoring, Evaluation and Knowledge Management Officer, Samriddhi-Rural Enterprises and Remittances Project/IFAD, Ithari, Sunsari, Nepal. He can be contacted at ruprety001@gmail.com