In 2021, CLN trained 117 coffee and nut farmers on pruning, pest management, and making organic compost to increase plant production. We are proud that about one-third of our participants were women. While COVID delayed our training, we successfully delivered it ahead of season in a creative new format: 6 separate village locations were used to reduce travel and the spread of COVID.
Our coffee and macadamia program is in Year 6, and this year our 245 farmers planted 35,000 more coffee saplings and 2,000 more macadamia trees. The coffee bushes are growing well and producing coffee cherries. Early participating farmers are now earning money by selling the saplings they cut and raise from their more mature plants. Also, all of our coffee farmers were able to effectively sell their coffee cherries at a good (and standard) price. We had our first small macadamia nut harvest which generated lots of excitement among farmers. The trees require 6-8 years to begin producing nuts (and they will continue to produce for 50+ years), so these trees are a sign of good things to come!
Farmers are seeing encouraging returns on the time and energy they’ve invested in growing coffee! Dil Kumar Tamang has planted 6,000 coffee bushes. A few were mature enough to produce coffee this year, creating new income of $500 for his family.
In total, over $11,000 was earned in 2021 by coffee farmers with mature plants, and they are excited about it! $11,000 may not sound like much, but average income in the region is $1,080 per year. Someone who makes $500 is effectively making a 50% bonus on their annual income…and these are still early days. There’s more to come as more plants mature.
Six years ago, Laxmi Shrestha planted 20 coffee bushes. She cautiously waited a few years to see if they would grow and produce coffee well. Seeing the success of her plants and others nearby, she expanded her farm to 600 bushes. While it will take time for those new plants to mature, Laxmi earned $40 this year from the coffee of her original 20 trees, and she is feeling very confident. With 600 trees, her income from coffee in 5 years might be $1,200 per year, more than double what she earns right now.
CLN has 80,000 coffee saplings and 3,000 macadamia nut saplings in our nurseries this year. In early 2021, the COVID surge in Nepal limited travel during planting season, so saplings couldn’t be fully distributed. That limited our farmers’ ability to expand. Optimistically, our growers went ahead and planted more of both in the nurseries this year. Our nurseries are quite full now, but it’s good that plenty of saplings will be ready for the spring planting season. Income from saplings is important to farmers who joined our organic farming programs early. They are able to cut saplings directly from their mature coffee bushes, while macadamias are grown from seed. This year, farmers like Lila Karki (top photo) will plant some of the first-harvest macadamia seeds to grow new trees…and eat all the rest!
Our goal in 2022 is to continue to train farmers and work on the quality of plant care, harvest timing, and processing procedures. As Program Director Parshu Dahal says, “We must focus on enabling all the plants to fruit at their full capacity, protect them from insects and disease, and proper processing.”