Minister for Finance & Industry lauds micro-entrepreneurs’ crop diversification
Nepal’s Minister for Finance and Industry Honorable Shankar Koirala lauded Nepali micro-entrepreneurs for their success in crop diversification and for contributing to the Government’s efforts to reduce trade deficit. The Minister made the comments on 8 January in Kakani, Nuwakot while on a visit to strawberry farms that have received support from Micro Enterprise Development Programme (MEDEP). MEDEP is jointly implemented by Nepal’s Ministry of Industry and UNDP with major financial contribution from Australian Aid.
Minister Koirala, accompanied by secretary at the Ministry of Industry (MoI) Mr. Krishna Gyawali, MEDEP National Programme Director and Joint Secretary at MoI Ms. Yam Kumari Khatiwada, MEDEP Chief Technical Advisor Dr. Lakshman Pun, Under Secretary at Ministry of Agriculture Mr. Sunil Singh and representatives of entrepreneurs' organizations, also visited Nawa Bihani and Mhendola Fole cooperatives and interacted with the entrepreneurs. The two cooperatives have also received MEDEP’s support.
During the interaction programme, the entrepreneurs informed the Minister and his team that they produce strawberry worth Rs. 50 million (US$ 500,000) every year. In 2013 alone, farmers of Okharpauwa and Hilevitta VDCs of Nuwakot produced 1,572,000 kilograms of strawberry and earned Rs. 15 million (US$ 150,000) by exporting the fruit to India. The sale of jam, jelly and candy in 2013 brought in an additional Rs. 1.4 million (US$ 14,000). The fresh fruit, jam and jelly have found good market in five star hotels and supermarkets. They are also sold abundantly in street shops in Kathmandu.
Speaking at the interaction, Minister Koirala lauded the hard work and the subsequent success of entrepreneurs, particularly in diversifying their product and exporting to India. "You have been selling your products across border and contributing to the Government's efforts in reducing trade deficit with India,” he said. Speaking of the Government’s efforts that will make business easier for these entrepreneurs, Minister Koirala said, “We are trying to solve the issues of cross-border trade that will enable strawberry to be easily exported to India.”
Minister Koirala, who also holds the portfolio of Minister for Commerce and Supplies, added that the Government had identified a few fruits in which Nepal could become self-sufficient and expected that next year, strawberry will be identified as one such product.
MEDEP has introduced strawberry farming in Rasuwa, Sindhuli, Dolakha, Myagdi, Parbat and Pyuthan districts as well.