Kiwi farming gaining popularity in Ilam

   TwitCount
Kiwi farming in Ilam has a short history. Just three or four years ago, Mr Tara Mani Khatiwada, Manager of the Environment Protection and Alternative Power Development Private Limited (EPAPD), introduced kiwi cultivation to Subulung, Ilam, in eastern Nepal. Mr Khatiwada learned about kiwi cultivation and took starter stem cuttings during a visit to the ICIMOD Knowledge Park at Godavari as well as taking some cuttings from Himachal Pradesh, India. “When I first got started in the kiwi business, 20 to 25 per cent of my initial knowledge about kiwi farming was obtained during my visit to the ICIMOD Knowledge Park at Godavari,” he said. Since then, EPAPD has promoted kiwi cultivation in the district through interactions with farmers, training on farming techniques, the sale of starter cuttings, and by marketing kiwis in festivals. It has also used radio programmes, fliers, and local newspapers to reach a broader audience.


“About 1,350 farmers in 36 VDCs of Ilam, among them some 450 women, are directly or indirectly involved in the production of kiwis, which are sold in the local market for anywhere between NRs 400 to 600 per kg, depending on their quality”, said Khatiwada.

From 29 June to 1 July, an ICIMOD study team, comprised of Deependra Tandukar, Knowledge Management and Web Specialist, Ujol Sherchan, Senior Programme Officer, and Jiwan Tamang, Godavari Centre Assistant, visited six VDCs in Ilam (Mabu, Maimajhuwa, Maipokhari, Mangalbare, Sakhejung, and Sulubung) to document the growing trend of kiwi farming at the household level. During the trip, the team noted the rising popularity and high value potential of kiwi cultivation in Ilam. 

After receiving a week-long training from EPAPD, Mr Tej Bahadur Gurung of Maimajhuwa planted 200 kiwi plants on 10 ropanis of land normally reserved for growing maize. “It is easier to grow kiwis than maize; it is less time-consuming and less work. Plus, it yields greater economic benefits,” he said. Last year, he sold about 50 kg of kiwis for NRs 60 per kiwi; his projected yield this year is 150-200 kg. With the time saved, he and his wife were able to devote more time to other crops. Mr Gurung also runs a nursery with approximately 1,000 cuttings; which he sells for NRs 400-500 apiece. This is just one example of how kiwi farming has taken hold in Ilam and is providing alternatives to local farmers.

However, there are still many challenges. Given the high cost of cuttings and the necessary wiring and support structures, the initial investment required for kiwi farming, even on a modest scale, is high. Even though the crop’s projected long-term returns are high, it is difficult to convince low-income farmers to take on kiwi cultivation. Now EPAPD provides cuttings to farmers at NRs 75-100 apiece through an Asian Development Bank (ADB) supported project. But this will not continue once the project ends. As the popularity of kiwi cultivation in eastern Nepal grows, it will be challenging for EPAPD to provide adequate training to farmers on the latest production methods and technologies at affordable rates. 

The ICIMOD team was happy to learn that the high-value kiwi plants the Godavari Centre has demonstrated and promoted for years have found a home in Ilam. The team also saw a growing role for the Godavari Centre in supporting the budding kiwi revolution in Ilam and beyond by providing the requisite training. For example, EPAPD and several farmers in Ilam have expressed an interest in training on producing grafted cuttings in a nursery setting. 

“Five years from now, we intend to ensure that there are, on average, five or six kiwi plants per household throughout Ilam. Also that we are able to sell kiwis across Nepal as well as export to nearby towns in India like Siliguri, Darjeeling, and Gangtok,” said Mr Khatiwada. “We also want to have our own kiwi juice/jam factory up and running.”

Given the success these farmers have already found in kiwi cultivation and their passion and outlook for the future, it is clear that this is only the beginning.
A Kiwi farm in Ilam, Nepal

A Kiwi farm in Ilam, Nepal

Mr Tara Mani Khatiwada introduced kiwi cultivation to Ilam after gaining knowledge during a visit to the Godavari Training and Demonstration Centre

Mr Tara Mani Khatiwada introduced kiwi cultivation to Ilam after gaining knowledge during a visit to the ICIMOD Knowledge Park at Godavari 

Mr Tej Bhadur Gurung has replaced plots normally reserved for maize with less time-consuming, high-value kiwi

Mr Tej Bhadur Gurung has replaced plots normally reserved for maize with less time-consuming, high-value kiwi

The wiring and support structure necessary for cultivating kiwi

The wiring and support structure necessary for cultivating kiwi