From grape farming to industry, a new dimension in agro-tourism

July 9, Kathmandu. Kumar Karki, a businessman who arrived in Japan a decade and a half ago for higher education, had a feeling of “do something” in the field of employment expansion and agri-tourism in his native Nepal.

Through continuous self-study, testing, hard work and investment, Karki’s thinking has now taken shape. Karki, a businessman who returned to Nepal after leaving the tourism business in Japan, has succeeded in emerging as a new entrepreneur on the soil of the country by facing many challenges.

Karki has been working on the concept of developing and expanding agri-tourism in Nepal by opening a commercial grape farming and natural (organic) wine industry and also exporting and connecting with it a new tourism concept.

From the selection of suitable climates for the cultivation of grapes to the climatic conditions of Nepal, the story of the struggle and success of Karki and his group during the establishment of the industry has been growing.

Grape cultivation, which started as a trial, has now spread to the industry and is heading towards commercial success. Entrepreneur Karki established Nepal’s first vineyard in 2064 BS by importing various species of plants from Japan for grape cultivation with the help and advice of Japanese experts and other friends. Before that, Karki established Patlewan Resort in Thankot in 2068 BS with the aim of supporting tourism business and increasing local employment.

After working in a travel agency in Japan and exploring various agricultural products, Karki came in contact with a professor at Okaiya University about grape farming in Nepal.

He had given a Japanese expert the details of the rainy season in Nepal for a year and had studied the species of grapes in which season the land can be cultivated in which height.

Karki started grape cultivation in 2007 by bringing 200 seedlings from Japan to his resort in Patlevan. In the meantime, he studied it in France, Switzerland and other countries. From that, it was found that grapes can be cultivated in Nepal before the monsoon. After recognizing these things, Karki expanded his investment.

At present, the same group is cultivating grapes in about 400 ropanis in Kaule of Thakre Gaonpalika-8 of Dhading and Kaule of Ward No. 10, Machhindrawan of Dhunibensi Municipality-8, raising business partners. In the near future, grape cultivation will be started on 100 ropanis of land in Ghiring village of Tanahu. Ghiring Vineyard Agro Research Center has been established there.

Karki started Patlevan Vineyard Winery Company in 2068 BS with the aim of making Nepali natural flavored wine from grapes and exporting it abroad.

After getting permission from the government to start the production work and bringing many machines from Italy, India and Germany, now there is regular work including construction of new building of the production center in Kaule, Thakre. He has so far invested around Rs 500 million in the industry.

In the three years since Berna planted, the industry has been challenged to bring in the Dermax chemical, which is needed to kill insects on fruit grapes. Karki, chairman of the company, believes that it will contribute to the national economy as tourists from European countries try to taste the Gurkha beer produced in Nepal, just as they are the first industry to grow their own grapes in wine and juice production.

According to Karki, foreign wines can be replaced as demand in the local market increases. Wine companies in Nepal used to import grapes from India. Red and white wine costs Rs 1,200 per bottle. These products are expected to be easy to export to India and Portugal.

Study by bringing plants and experts from abroad

The group started researching with the idea of ​​developing and expanding the business. In 2070 BS, another Patlevan Vineyard was established in Kewalpur, Dhading. At present, 25-30 varieties of grapes are cultivated in 300 ropanis.

So far, Rs. 500 million has been invested in these places and 50 locals have started getting employment on daily wage basis. “We have focused on quality production by providing training on grape cultivation and wine to wine experts from Switzerland and Germany, paying a small amount of money, thinking that grape farming and wine quality should be developed,” said Karki.

Interestingly, professors at the Chitwan-based Agriculture and Forest University have been teaching students that commercial grape cultivation is not possible in Nepal’s climate. This experiment and success of Dhading has proved that limited knowledge of the university wrong.

Sunil Krishan Sindhe, an Indian expert on grape farming, came to Dolpa four years ago and tested the climate, topography and soil of the area and suggested cultivation of black grape called Jumbo Sidlex, green grape of golden variety and fruit called Dragon.

Karki, a businessman, also studied grape cultivation and wine abroad and identified the need to cultivate grapes in Nepal before the monsoon. After recognizing these things, Vineyard Pralika Karki of the industry mobilized its investment and business partnership and in 2075 BS formed a group including Dhruv Kumar Khatri and Janpal Thapa to build a modern wine cellar.

As the first industry in Nepal to produce wine and juice from grapes grown from its own orchards, Karki believes that it will make a good contribution to the national economy.

Karki says their products will be able to replace foreign red and white wines as demand in the local market increases. These products are expected to be easily exported to neighboring India, China and other countries.

The industry, which has set a target of producing 300,000 bottles annually within the next five years, currently produces 100,000 bottles of wine annually. Industry partner Khatri said that wine production will gradually increase with the expansion of grape cultivation. Khatri and Thapa joined the industry four years ago to join the country’s economic prosperity by working in the United Kingdom.

Difficulties and possibilities of business

Karki, who sacrificed his youth for a long time and always worked on the ground, lamented that some government policies were unscientific and impractical. The Government of Nepal, Ministry of Finance’s Excise Regulations, 2076, has made provision for the production of fresh fruit and wine from grapes at the rate of 1.5 liters containing 12 percent alcohol per kg of fruit.

Karki says this has directly affected his industry. It is difficult to import such items as berna, sifa and chhari from abroad. Expensive customs duty has been levied on the import of essential plastics and hellets. Problems such as non-availability of manure on time have also been observed.

Although there is a lot of talk about government subsidy in agriculture, it is the experience of industry operators that it has not been implemented in a practical way. The term of agricultural concessional loan taken from the bank has been fixed at five years, which is difficult to apply in case of horticulture.

Karki said that it would be impossible to repay the loan from the second year as the production would start only after three-four years of planting and the income would be received only then.

The industry plans to expand the cultivation in suitable barren lands by identifying the climate-friendly wine and table grape (fresh edible) species of Nepal and to establish and cultivate Berna nursery of climate-friendly varieties and produce and distribute Berna to farmers and entrepreneurs.

The industry aims to produce high quality and organic wines for the international market, replace them with tourist hotels and restaurants, and distribute them in the local market and import foreign wines, as well as export in the future with Nepali branding.

Similarly, the aim is to increase employment in rural areas by attracting international tourists to Nepal by conducting wintours and vineyard tours and establishing resorts.

Karki said that they will be active in reducing the emigration of youths and supporting the economic and social development of the country by creating direct employment in agriculture, industry, tourism and business in agrarian Nepal.

He urged the Government of Nepal, the state and local governments to address the existing problems in agriculture, facilitate the import of agricultural implements and medicines and facilitate the industry in formulating policies and branding in accordance with scientific and international standards.

Restrictions on land acquisition for large-scale agriculture have also become another challenge for businesses. It seems that barren government land should be made available for lease and agricultural loan should be determined according to the nature of agriculture.

The group aims to run commercial animal husbandry and resorts in Dhading in the future. Director Khatri said that they will work to encourage local farmers in commercial grape farming and also to provide skills and technology support.

Recent studies have shown that grape cultivation at altitudes of 400 to 1000 meters is suitable in Nepal. Of the 10,000 species of grapes in the world, white grapes are found to be more suitable for white grapes in Nepal, such as German Solaris and Mascare, Oribon, Shadoni of France, Cabanir of France, Merlot etc.

The industry currently produces 40 varieties of grapes. As water or hailstones can cause grape plants and fruits to fall, it is learned that they should be covered with a hard net from above.

Assistance of the State Government

The government of Bagmati has decided to grant Rs. 15 million for the purchase of machines and construction of nurseries to encourage local employment growth and expansion of commercial farming.

The industry currently employs 50 people and produces 750 ml (one bottle) of wine per kg of grapes.

The Kewalpur Agro Farm Pvt. However, due to Kovid-19, all the work could not be done as planned, said Karki.

Karnali and local governments have been supporting the wine industry. Karnali Beverages Industries Pvt.

Dimur wine is made from chemicals brought to the industry from Brazil. The municipality and the state government have invested Rs. 24.6 million in the industry with an investment of about Rs. 90 million so far.

The benefits of black grapes

So every fruit is good for health. Experts say that black grapes are rich in vitamins, potassium, calcium, and iron, which are good for your health.

The flavonoids and aspirin found in this grape protect people from heart attack and prevent blood clots in the body. It dries out the blisters in the body and if you consume black grapes on a daily basis, it enhances your memory.

Doctors also say that it is beneficial for the heart by controlling cholesterol. It is also beneficial in preventing cancer and catching colds.

Regular consumption of black grapes has a positive effect on the amount of glucose found in it, which stimulates the body, helps in the digestive system and also has a positive effect on the beauty of eyes, hair and skin.

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