Chyuri - a wish fulfilling tree !
September 2010; About 200 entrepreneurs have received training in making herbal soap out of Chyuri (Aesandra butyracea ) through the UNDP Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP) . Statistics show that there are more than 10 million Chyuri trees in 50 districts of Nepal. As a result of the training, in 2009, the entrepreneurs produced 84,000 pieces of Chyuri herbal soap (80 gm) with a market value of approximately Rs 1.8 million.
According to a recent survey conducted by MEDEP, there are 5.6 million Chyuri trees at fruit bearing stage with the potential of collecting nearly 90,000 metric tons of seeds' from which approximately 35,000 metric ton of butter can be extracted. Chyuri butter substitutes the animal fat ingredient in the soap production.
Herbal soap production is a profitable business with a profit margin of Rs 6-9 per 80gm soap cake. The Chyuri soap produced by the micro-entrepreneurs has increasing domestic and international demands. In addition, import of raw materials is decreasing, saving substantial cash flow out of the country as well as generating jobs for more people, especially for the marginalized poor women. Today, almost 260 rural poor people are able to earn cash income as collectors of Chyuri seeds from community forests on a seasonal employment scheme.
Pyuthan district is a successful example of a herbal soap enterprise, which has a contract with Mahaguthi, a reputed fair trade organization in Nepal. Mahaguthi procures the Chyuri herbal soap from Pyuthan, repackages the product and exports it as far as Japan.
MEDEP has been assisting the herbal soap producers by providing them with skills development training, improved packaging, promoting market linkages and branding through Saugat Micro-Promotion Private Limited. A sales outlet in Kathmandu popularly known as Saugat Griha also sells the products manufactured by the micro-entrepreneurs from all over the country.
MEDEP has been contributing to the achievement of Millennium Development Goals by reducing poverty and hunger (MDG #1), by empowering women (MDG #3). The enterprises have resulted in increased number of women entrepreneurs, improved school attendance of children and improved health of women and children as the income of the women mainly go on food, clothing and education for their kids and to pay for health care (MDGs 2,4 and 5). It has also promoted environmental sustainablity (MDG # 7) by working with forest user groups to promote environmentally-friendly enterprises.
Durga KC of Maranthana Village in Pyuthan district is making almost Rs. 50,000 per month. After the soap making training from MEDEP, she went on to expand her business along with her husband who was not doing well as a driver. Her family's life has completely changed.
The use of Chyuri is multipurpose. It is a delicious fruit to eat. Local communities use Chyuri for ghee (butter/oil) for daily cooking and lighting lamps. Chyuri leaves are used as fodder for domestic animals. The timber is hard and durable and is used for furniture and the extracted seeds can be used as organic fertilizer. The nectar from the Chyuri flower is a good source for organic honey production. As a result, many entrepreneurs are also running bee keeping enterprises. Chyuri flowers have medicinal value as the oil extracted from its seed is also used to cure different kind of skin diseases.
This multipurpose tree has become a boon- 'a wish fulfilling tree' for the rural people in Nepal.