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Kanchanjunga: Empowering farmers’ reaching global markets

Agriculture in Nepal is still of subsistence but with the right policies and supportive investments at local, regional and national levels, agriculture offers new opportunities to move out of poverty.

On the above background, the government of Nepal with the grant assistance ($18 million among total budget of $24.1 million USD) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) has implemented Commercial Agriculture Development Project to address the issues of livelihood and poverty by promoting and linking Nepalese agriculture to national and international market.

CADP was launched in the period of 2007 to 2012 (currently it is in impact assessment phase) as operated by Ministry of Agriculture Development (MoAD), Department of Agriculture (DoA) and Commercial Agriculture Alliances (CAA).

The major objectives of CADP intends to reduce poverty in rural communities of the 11 districts of Eastern Development Region of Nepal through equitable and sustainable commercialization of agriculture with an outcome of improved efficiency of marketing and processing of High Value Crops (HVC). The project specifically features the covering of different types of stakeholders working together in subsistence, semi- commercial and commercial public-private partnerships.

Kanchanjunga Tea Estate and Research Center Pvt. Ltd., is an enterprise of 97.5 hectares established in 1990, and situated in Phidim- 3, Suntalabari, Pachthar, Nepal. It works in tri- party networking; including farmers are producers, Kanchanjungha as processor and the international market. Organic tea production (3 categories: Black, Green and Specialty), tea marketing, tea intervention with orange peel for health promotion and small farmer promotion are major activities of Kanchanjunga.

It is the certified company from American Organic Certification, Japanese Organic Certification and other different certified agencies. The major market is made of European countries, exporting 600 Kg of orange powder (from epicarp) and 50 tones of organic tea whereas 20000 liters of orange juice is sold on the national market annually.

"Organic Tea and Juice Production Value Added Program" is one of the sub-projects which is partially supported by CAA in Kanchanjungha, from which program 500 families are benefitting directly and 5000 families are indirectly benefitting. CAA's support was used in machinery equipments and farmer's training. It collects tea from three Village Development Committees namely, Fidim, Chokmagu and Ranigaun with a relationship and trust between farmers and Kanchanjuga usually prepare contract agreements for mutual benefits.

"Sometimes disease infestation (leaf yellowing) has resulted into lower production. However we are trying to manage it by organic method since our products are organic certified and sometimes there are difficulties to harvest tea in rainy season", says  Nira Nanda Acharya, Farm Manager. "Our activities has added value of organic products in this district, nowadays Agrovets (place where we can get agricultural inputs) has also marketing organic fertilizers/ pesticides rather than chemical one", he added.

Currently, it has started Pathivara Tea Estate, a new management from this year. It is considered as one of the successful organic farms with positive impacts to farmers and consumers encouraging them in producing and utilizing organic products. Although it received small supports from CADP, we can say that it is fruitful. The well established national and international market has added its value by supporting more farmers and maintaining sustainable enterprises.