– Krishna Darnal
Bahundanda at Amlabas which lies in the Rainadevi Chhahara rural municipality-4 in Papla is home to 30 households.
The identity of the village does not end here as it has something special to indentify itself in particular as it now earns the recognition as a ‘pocket zone’ for orange production. Commercial orange farming has now become a means of bringing a significant change in the lives of Bahundanda folks. The villagers for whom to see cash in hands was only occasional in the past now export oranges worth around Rs 200 million a year alone. Foreign employment has turned out to be an outdated choice among the youths here. The villagers are free from the compulsion of seeking loan for household expenses, children’s education and other purposes. They are in the position of affording higher education for their children. Their decision to switch to commercial orange farming from traditional agricultural production has proved a right one.
They have separate orange gardens. During initial days, they had planted just one or two plants for personal consumption and gradually transformed it to commercial scale. They face no market shortage or low payment for their produces as they sell the produces for Rs 70-75 per kg right from the gardens. A local Gita Bhattarai said that some 13 families of the area earned around Rs 1.5 million annually by selling oranges. Similarly, a general family has also been able to make Rs 300,000 – Rs 400,000 income. Bhattarai said that the locals have become successful to save some amount after spending on their food, clothes and medical treatment for a year from their income from sale of orange.
A local Humnath Kandel has been into orange farming for the past 20 years. Kandel, who gave up animal rearing and traditional agriculture profession, said that he would give continuity to the orange, lemon farming in future. Kandel said that he makes income of more than Rs 600,000 annually from orange farming alone. Yamlal Koirala had led the commercial orange farming 40 years ago. Eighty-year-old Koirala is happy after seeing the whole settlement attracted towards the commercial orange farming. Another local Tikaram Pokharel opined, “We are facing problems to identify disease in lack of technical knowledge. So we are not able to make income as expected.” Orange farming has become the main source of income of all villagers. The oranges produced in the area are supplied to many cities including Butwal, Bhairahawa, Chitwan, Nawalparasi and Kapilvastu.
Another orange grower Kamal Ghimire shared that he sold oranges worth about Rs 1.5 million this year. He said they have left traditional cereal crop cultivation and adopted orange cultivation as it was less costly and easier as well. However, the farmers of this area known as orange pocket zone are deprived of the government subsidy programme. Orange farmers here have not got the grants from the federal, state and the local government. The farmers here have been able to earn adequate income from commercial vegetable farming done in the orange orchard.
Orange is cultivated on 853 hectares land in Palpa district and the annual production is 5,660 tonnes. The district earned more than Rs 110 million from sale of orange in the last fiscal year alone. Orange grows well at Somadi, Bhuwanpokhari, Mujhug and Chhahara of Rainadevi Chhahara Rural Municipality in Palpa district. Orange farmers from this region earn Rs 1.5 million annually on an average. Youths at Ribdikot, Palumainadi, Kusumkhola, Bhairabsthan, Khasyouli and Bagnaskali are also attracted to commercial orange farming. Commercial orange farming has helped retain the youths within home instead of going on foreign employment and also improved the economic income of many families.