Youth of Sindhuli into commercial dragon fruit farming

Bharat Kafle of Harshahi in Dhudhauli Municipality-6 in Sindhuli can be a vivid example for many people for he has chosen to stay back home to do something good, and his hard work is paying off.

His motivation to toil back in the home country comes at a time when youth in particular are flying in hordes to foreign countries in search of better opportunities.

Kaflehas taken up dragon fruit farming, which he said is doing well. Aside from earning a good income from it, he has providing employment opportunities to five family members.

He has understood that a commercial farming not only makes a family self-employed but it will prosper the whole country by attracting others to the business. “This year, I earned Rs 1 million from selling 20 quintals of the fruit in five stages at the rate of Rs 500 per kg, and Rs 300,000 from selling fruit saplings.

Over 4,000 saplings are in stock in the nursery,” he said. In the last two years, he earned Rs 1.3 million from selling dragon fruit grown in eight katthas of land. He has grown fruits on 18 katthas of land planting 3,500 saplings with the support of 930 poles.

Around 900 plants are now bearing fruit. “Since a year of planting, each plant produced fruits up to 17 times. From May 15 to November 15, the fruit can be harvested three times a year. From the first year of planting, it produced eight kg fruits per plant, and it produced up to 45 kg per plant from the third year,” he said.

He is also selling dragon fruit saplings for Rs 200 each. He has planted 300 fruit saplings. Encouraged by good incomes of Rs 1.3 million in just two years of starting the farming, Kafle, who was doing a grocery shop in Kathmandu, was inspired to return to the village and join the family in expanding the farming.

He left the shop two months after starting it due to COVID-19. After engaging in commercial dragon farming for the past two years, he did not like to return to Kathmandu. Although it is a bit costly in starting dragon fruit farming, as the income will increase every year, there is no need to be disappointed by this business, he said.

He added 200 poles to support the fruit saplings by receiving a subsidy of Rs 200,000 from the Agriculture Knowledge Centre, Sindhuli. Now, he has a plan of expanding the fruit cultivation in one and a half bighas this year. According to him, the lifespan of a sapling is more than 25 years. Dragon fruits are of 153 varieties, and he has planted the siam red variety.

From expanding the cultivation to bringing fruits to the market, the family of five themselves undertake all these works. People from many places of the country reach his farm to observe and take idea on the production of fruit saplings, soil preparation, planting methods and the marketing of the produced fruits and saplings.

Having started dragon fruit farming after taking idea from YouTube and Google in the beginning, young farmer Kafle is now able to provide training in this farming. Recollecting his first struggle when starting dragon fruit farming, he said, “For plowing the land, we did not raise oxen, and it was impossible to plow with a tractor due to the lack of road access. So, my six katthas of land remained barren.

After searching on YouTube and Google about fruit cultivation, I came to know that it does not require to plow and dragon fruit cultivation lasts for more than 25 years after planting.

And I started the farming myself after learning about the farming done in Patle in Kavrepalanchok by a local farmer Bheshman Shrestha.” After filling out the online form, he went to Hyderabad in India and after taking two months of training, he started the farming commercially, he said.

Stating that some farmers had to incur losses due to their inability to identify dragon fruit species adaptable to the environment, he suggested identifying the plants of the quality species according to the climate and soil of the place.

According to him, the plant he has planted starts bearing fruit 13 months after planting. He has been selling the fruit saplings worth Rs 600,000 annually.

The fruits and saplings he has produced have been sold in the local market and that of as far as Kavrepalanchok, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kathmandu districts.

There are many income sources and job opportunities back at home when we do commercial agriculture with the use of modern technology and meet the market demand for agricultural produces, he viewed. The young generation is not interested in agriculture as farmers and agriculture are looked down upon at the governmental, non-governmental and social levels, he argued.

As only commercial agriculture can prosper Nepal, he suggested that the government should introduce programmes that can attract unemployed youth to agriculture and assist them to engage in sustainable commercial farming.

To add to the potential of agriculture, the educated youth of the district however lately have been attracted to dragon fruit farming.

According to Shree Krishna Adhikari, the information officer for the Agriculture Knowledge Centre, Sindhuli, the healthy and multi-purpose dragon fruit is gradually flourishing in all the local levels of the district, and the required technical support is being provided.



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