The Organic Village: Going Organic

Destination Issue 81 Jul, 2010
Text by Nandita Rana

The traditional farming methods were the same. There weren’t technologies to support the production of chemical fertilizers, pesticides or growth hormones and other sophistications we use in the modern agriculture system.“The traditional approach was based on the natural cycle, seasonal cultivation and the use of sustainable resources mostly done in small scale farming. The same approach is back on track again, but now comes with a new label of ‘organic farming’ to it,” says Samir Newa, Managing Director of The Organic Village Pvt. Ltd.

Samir Newa is the founder of the whole concept of organic farming in Nepal, and of The Organic Village. It was Newa’s trip to some remote villages under a UNDP project that inspired him to look for a more sustainable approach for livelihoods based on farming in such places. This motivated Newa to focus on organic farming. Nepal is an agricultural country where 86 percent of the population resides in the rural areas and 81 percent derive their livelihoods from agriculture, and where low productivity of the land does not meet basic needs, he points out. The geography and climatic variations of the country, however,  support the conditions necessary for organic farming, which is why Newa started his campaign to develop the agricultural sector of the country through organic farming. The Organic Village promotes agriculture techniques and products that are chemical free and, therefore, very healthy and environmentally friendly. Also, one of the key objectives is to develop food awareness and healthy eating habits among consumers.

The Organic Village was founded in 2003 by Samir Newa and a group of young and energetic Nepalese entrepreneurs with the main objective to promote organic farming, organic products and environmentally friendly handicrafts. laying emphasis on the importance of a balanced ecology. The Organic Village   works in collaboration with NGOs, INGOs and development agencies including UNDP, Micro Enterprise Development Program, Small Grants Program, GTZ (German Development) and Winrock International.

The Organic Village has been working primarily to preserve the natural quality of the land and soil by nullifying the use of harmful chemicals and fertilizers. It works in direct contact and partnership with the local farmers and provides them with secure markets. It also provides them with a self-sustainable approach to farming and aims to promote self employment to improve their living standard. It also serves as an information center for farmers, students and researchers and helps through internships and training programs to generate awareness about the benefits of organic farming and organic products. Its technical trainings on organic farming at the village level involves farmers, housewives and other interested people. The Organic Village has actively encouraged the involvement of women in its programs.

The Organic Village has outlets around Kathmandu in Baluwatar, Bakundole and Kupondole, including some leading supermarkets and other local grocery stores. Its main store is located on the west side of the road in Baluwatar, north of the Bhatbateni Supermarket. Outside of Kathmandu it has outlets in Chitwan and Pokhara. Agro-products featured include lentils, rice, beans, honey, jam and both dairy and meat products, various vegetables and fruits, and decorative items like organic fruit baskets, candles and photo albums. They also sell beauty products like soap and shampoo of different varieties, plus handicrafts and essential oils. The products of The Organic Village mostly come from high altitude places of the hilly regions of Nepal, such as Jumla, Humla and Mustang.

“The high altitude food products have lower levels of fats compared to the ones grown in warmer regions,” says Samir Newa. “Most of our products come from the high altitude regions with cooler climatic conditions, making them healthier substitutes for diabetics and people with heart ailments.” The jumli marsi rice from Jumla District is grown at an altitude of 2500 meters above sea level. Kalo dal (black lentils) from Rasuwa is grown above 2000 meters. They, along with red rice and the yellow rice from Humla, and a special frog meat called ‘paha’, are some of the exclusive and healthy products available at The Organic Village. The company deals with farmers directly, to collect their products and to supervise their quality of production. So far the Organic Village has more than 350 commodities from 400 communities in 33 districts. The company also has 664 hectares of its own agricultural land, plus 200 hectares of grassland, 400 hectares of private forest and 3,000 hectares of community forest in 42 districts across Nepal, benefiting more than 4,000 families.

The Organic Village runs a number of projects. One, at Sankhu Palubari, is called ‘Going Organic! From School to Home’, aimed at educating and training the children of Palubari community in sustainable organic farming. This approach is focused at the school level so that the children grow up to be qualified farmers who will be able to generate income by preserving their own land and water. The ‘Solar Development Committee’ is another endeavor of The Organic Village, aimed at promoting the use of renewable energy to protect the environment and support the use of alternative energy technologies. The ‘Seti Valley Integrated Organic Farm’ is another project of The Organic Village initiated with the objective of promoting organic farming and research. It is being run in Kaski District with support from the ‘Sustainable Agriculture Development Program’, an NGO. The Organic
Village is also set to organize the first of its kind ‘Organic Fair’, in collaboration with the government of Nepal.

With its vision to expand globally into foreign markets, The Organic Village has recently begun marketing their brand of ‘friendly products’ from Nepal to eco-friendly companies in the USA, UK, Qatar and South Africa. Together with a team of 30 young and motivated staff The Organic Village has been working at community level to transform Nepal into an organic country. “The key to a healthy life is eating healthy,” Samir Newa reminds us, “so it is important to be vigilant in matters of your food choices. This is the reason why a healthy food habit incorporating chemical free products serves an investment for the long term.” g

The Organic Village Pvt. Ltd., 95 Thirbam Sadak, Baluwatar-5, Kathmandu, Nepal
Post Box: GPO Box 8975 EPC 840 Kathmandu. Tel/fax: 441.4383. or