KATHMANDU, May 15: 31-year-old Kumud Singh started Alpine Coffee when he was 26. Five years down the line, he is still learning and trying different kinds of farming on his estate located just outside Kathmandu. A married man now, Kumud says that coffee plantation in Nepal has boomed but is not matching the market as supply lingers on the lower scale.
Republica caught up with the MBA graduate from Kathmandu University.
How did you come about farming in Nepal?
I, along with my partner, Rabindra Shrestha, started this project in 2008 right after completing our MBA. Before I started the coffee venture, I was involved in a production house while I was studying but things somehow didn’t work out. And when you study a subject like MBA, you either work for a corporate house or a bank. I didn’t want to do that and hence we jumped on the coffee producing wagon.
Why coffee farming?
Farming isn’t taken seriously here in Nepal, especially by the educated lot. We started coffee farming because it was viable in the country and the financial aspects were pretty good, too. After our graduation, we went to various fields producing coffee and did our research. When we started the venture, we hired consultants who knew about coffee. We too did a lot of research and now we’re growing Arabica coffee in Nuwakot, roughly 35 kilometers from Kathmandu. Coffee is a commodity and the demand is rising but the supply isn’t sufficient. Also, because coffee takes at least three to four years before you get the first harvest and seven to eight years before you really start getting good coffee, people don’t have the patience. But we think it’s a great business venture.
Do you plan to expand your business to other forms of agriculture? What are your future plans?
We already are doing agriculture and not just coffee, if I may add. Coffee plants take a long time to grow, like I said before, so we’ve planted fruits like avocado, macadamia nuts (one of the premium nuts), oranges and citruses. So I guess we’ve already expanded. About the future, well, we’ll soon be packaging our coffee and selling it here in Kathmandu and this is set to happen in a few weeks from now. From the next year, I plan to also start exporting our coffee out of Nepal and hope to get a steady importer of our produce.
Your words for the youth who want to be in the field of agriculture.
It’s difficult when you start the business and I guess it’s the same in every field. Getting loans from banks, buying the plots of land, making a road, it’s all a bit difficult. But once that’s done and you start it, it’s not difficult. Also, youth who are interested in agriculture should know that there are various types of farming which will yield profits if done properly. And until and unless educated youth are involved in farming and agriculture, the required technology will never be introduced. Through our coffee venture, we’re also trying to get youth involved in various sectors of our project.