Meet the Farmers

Nov 15, 2022 | Coffee, Farmers, Macadamias, Organic Agriculture

Macadamia farmer Bindu Darji has a big smile because she just sold 22 lbs of freshly harvested nuts for nearly $100, and in rural Nepal that’s good earnings!

Bindu Darji wins! She and her family of five have three mature macadamia trees, which produced 62 lbs. of nuts this year—the highest yield per tree among all our CLN farmers this season. She sold some of her harvest and will plant the remainder in her own nursery. Her trees get plenty of rich organic fertilizer and sunshine, and her other 14 trees are getting bigger year by year. We’re not giving out prizes, but she was mighty proud to be recognized during our recent training for her highly productive trees. When her other trees start to produce, she should be able to double her annual income.

Coffee Farmer Dil Kumar Tamang

Check out the smile on Dil Kumar Tamang’s face as he proudly shows off his coffee trees, which are helping support his four children, his wife, and his aging mother. In 2021, he made $500 on coffee. In 2022, he made $1850 on coffee–almost triple the average farmer’s income in this region–and he will earn even more next year as more bushes grow to full production.

Abina Rai

Abina Rai, 23, is married with a two-year-old baby girl and lives with her husband’s parents. The family has seven goats, two pigs, some chickens, and land that can grow corn and millet but does not have enough water to grow better crops like rice. Basic survival is hard work, and without any way to earn income in the village, her husband went to Qatar two years ago. He earns about $230/month, some of which he is able to send back to her and his parents.

Abina’s husband planted 18 macadamia trees six years ago. Five of the trees started to produce nuts this year, and she had a small harvest: 9 lbs of nuts, which she will keep to help feed her family this year. She and her husband are really happy with their first harvest. It made them trust that their soil and climate are feasible for macadamias and that the care they are putting into the trees will pay off. Abina just participated in CLN’s macadamia training in October (sponsored by Friends of Nepal). She learned much more about tree care and intends to plant 30 more macadamia seedlings in the spring.

Labhang Rai 

Labhang Rai, 48, was traveling in India when his friend saw a special food for sale at a street market. The friend knew this was a tasty and expensive item and bought some for Labhang to try, but he didn’t know the name of it. Neither did the vendor selling it! Labhang and his friend agreed this would be good to try to grow at home in Nepal, but no one knew the name of this food (and “macadamia” is a word that’s quite hard to pronounce for native Nepali and Hindi speakers). Back home in Nepal a while later, Labhang heard about our sustainable agriculture project growing macadamia nuts and saw a brochure. He immediately recognized the photo as the tasty food from India and came to our local office in the district headquarters to ask about it. He started planting macadamia saplings in 2018, and our Program Director, reports from the field visit that Labhang’s trees are some of the healthiest and tallest he’s seen! Labhang is already asking for more saplings from this year’s nursery supply–he’s asking a year ahead because he sees a future in macadamias!

Barun Rai shows off the first nuts growing on his trees planted in 2016.

Barun Rai, 30, lost his family home and all his land seven years ago in a landslide. He moved his wife and children from the northern part of Sankhuwasabha District to our sustainable agriculture project area in 2016, the same year we started working with farmers to plant macadamia trees. Buying a very small piece of land for his family to live, and renting a little more, he planted three macadamia saplings as an experiment alongside his basic subsistence crops. Those three trees are now producing nuts, with more to come. Barun says that the macadamia trees are easy to care for, but he has had to wait a long time for them to produce. Meanwhile, he gradually planted 22 more macadamia trees plus other spices and fruits intercropped on the same land. He’s successfully growing organic ghost peppers, turmeric, ginger, and lemons, but macadamia nuts will bring the best profit when they start to fully produce. He’s excited this year to see all the nuts on those first three trees. He’s really had to wait a long time (he tells us again), but he’s very hopeful about his future profit. He plans to use this year’s nuts to start a nursery and plant more trees!

Besha Raj Basnet tells us, “I am getting old and cannot work as hard in the fields as I used to. My sons live far away. Now macadamia nut trees are good farm crops, both to eat and to make income.”

Besha Raj Basnet, 59, is a subsistence farmer. Like most of our farmers, he grows food grains (rice, corn, and millet) and raises a few oxen, goats, and water buffalo for ploughing, to feed his family, and to sell for income. He has six family members in his house–his elderly parents, his wife, his daughter-in-law and a granddaughter. His sons work and stay in other regions where they can find jobs. Villages are generally more sparsely populated now as people seek economic opportunity in more urban areas. With fewer people, wild monkeys are fearless about coming into the villages and eating food crops before farmers can make their harvest. Besha has chosen to grow macadamia nuts because monkeys don’t eat them, and they require less labor than annual grains. His family has 250 trees planted and the first 50 of them will be mature enough to produce nuts next year! He is hopeful about a good income from macadamia nuts because his trees are growing very well in their village soil.