The blazing afternoon sun in Bhur, Gelephu, does not hold back Kamana Gurung from working on the farm.
The 31-year-old is growing turmeric in an acre of land, a farm produce that is not so popular in the area as it is considered a burden for making the soil infertile.
Kamana, with the help of her husband, went around the villages three months ago collecting disposed turmeric.
The couple was surprised by the quantity of turmeric dumped by the farmers in the remote villages of Sarpang for not being able to fetch a good price.
“Turmeric is least valued at the moment but is an important spice,” she said.
Today, almost all the turmeric powder that is available in the country is imported from India. “Replacing the imported product is what I’m targeting.”
She said that turmeric cultivation is one of the easiest works on the farm. She has planted 800kg.
Besides being used as a spice in the kitchen, local turmeric powder is increasingly being demanded for cosmetic purposes.
Although she is not firm about marketing the produce, she plans to sell the powder in packages. It will be harvested sometime between September and October.
Besides turmeric, Kamana is also into making moringa tea that is sought after for its high medicinal value. “Making moringa tea is a long and tedious process,” Kamana said. “It needs to be dried, crushed in the palm, sorted and unfolded again before packaging. The process is purely organic.”
She said that in the last two years since she started making it, she sold about 60kgs.
A 50gm packet sells for Nu 250. At least 15 saplings have been already planted in her farm.
To expand her farming, she is waiting for the Priority Sector Lending loan to be approved. “If you have the capacity, farming is better than any other desk job,” she said.
“Farming flourishes financially if a woman is taking the lead,” he husband, Purna Bahadur Gurung added.
Kamana with support from her husband grows other seasonal vegetables such as okra, cabbage, cucumber, bitter guard, spinach and chilli in another three-acre land.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu