After 20 years, this year has been the first time when I’ve seen such a positive impact of agritourism in Nepal.
The Nepalese village of Bhurjungkhola has well integrated two major income generating sources of Nepalese livelihood to uplift the community standard: agriculture and tourism. The Bhunpare-Ghalekharka trekking route under the Annapurna Conservation Area Project and the Tatopani pilgrimage site are the most popular examples of the popularity of the tourism industry in the local community.
However, both sites have never really attracted tourists in a prolonged basis due to the construction of a roadway in the area and the disastrous consequences originated by the breakdown in the early 2011 of the Seti River glacial. At present days, the effort of the brothers Amrit and Lakschin Gurung has now played a significant role in promoting agritourism business in this region.
The Gurung success story
Located about 217 km North West from Kathmandu, the grazing land has now been changed into the ‘Gandaki Rainbow trout fish farm.’ These two entrepreneurs came out with the idea of running a fish farming project three years ago. After finding the most suitable quality water for the trout fish species, they built the infrastructure for fish farming and a restaurant as the fish distribution centre.
This farm attracts around 3,500 tourists monthly (internal and external) and has made remarkable changes in economic, social and cultural aspects of the community. Being named as the agriculture pocket model area by the Pokhara Chamber of Commerce, this farm has taken the agriculture sector to the next step. The local organic vegetables (tusa, kurilo and neuro) have been consumed by the restaurant and purchased by the tourists. The vegetable products have got market in this place which has reduced the transportation cost of farmers.
The tourists arrival – A lifestyle local change
According to the Gurung, the arrival of tourists has generally supposed a change in fashion, lifestyle and daily language of people. Besides, the rapid economic return of the products has encouraged the farmers very much. Bambahadur Gurung, Sarad Singh Bhandari or Indra Gauchan are some young agriculturists who have followed the footsteps of the Gurung brothers utilizing the climatic suitability of the area for farming.
Likewise, Preetilal Gurung, Bhawendra and many other farmers have invested in commercial agriculture as their products have received reasonable prices and nearby market. Bishnu Devi Acharya, a local inhabitant says that the level of confidence now is high among the farmers as they have got a role model as farm owners. Moreover, the increase in income of the farmers has enabled them to establish a cooperative which provides loans to farmers with minimal interest rates.
Thus, the impact seems overwhelming for the local people, yet they have a long way to go in establishing their village as a top agritouristic destination on a national and international level.
If you’d rather see the Gandaki Rainbow Trout Farm with your own eyes, watch this video and explore it with me!