KHARWANG (BAGLUNG), Nov 29: A group of locals in the remote village Kharwang has been producing herbal soap from butter extracted from the seed of local Aesandra (Chiuri) tree, which is fond in local forest and known as ´butter tree of Nepal”.
The domestic product has been popular in local market but lack of marketing strategy is preventing it from reaching wider consumer base across the county.
The group of seven locals including five women led by Yam Bahadur Bhujel started the production of toilet soap called “Chiuri Harbal Soap” after taking a bank loan under small scale credit two years ago. The local product has reached Baglung, Parbat, Myagdi as well as Pokhara.
According to Bhujel, they are trying to expand market of their soap to Butawal, Chitwan and Kathmandu. “If we can reach bigger market, we can easily supply the demand of the soap as we have sufficient material and the capacity to increase production,” said Bhujel.
After conducting survey on the possible uses of Chiuri tree, a non-governmental organization called Small Scale Industries Development Program, trained some locals to start soap production in small scale. Kharwang is located 70 kilometer from district headquarters and takes five hours bumpy ride to reach there.
Pokhara Based Sangrila Development bank provided loan for the soap factory without any collateral. The local group has taken 150,000 rupees from the bank so far and the bank is planning to provide further loan equal to earlier amount, according to Kamal Bahadur Chhetri, chief of small scale credit department of the bank.
Chhetri also informed that the bank has promised to buy 25 percent of the total production. So the bank has so far distributed over 1,000 pieces of herbal soaps to its costumers and staffs as souvenirs of the remote village.
“We have been buying the herbal soap to honor and encourage the labor and investment of the people of remote village. The villagers have set an example of entrepreneurship by producing soap with local raw material,” he further added. Hotel Peace Palace, a Baglung based hotel has also said it would buy 1,000 piece of the Chiuri herbal soap to promote the local industry.
The members of the group, from poor families, took Rs 37,500 loan each and started the soap factory. The soap has also been awarded Nepal Quality Certification Mark (NS), which has opened the door to market the product across the country. The factory buys the Chiuri seed at Rs 20 per kg. One kg of Chiuri gee is extracted from three kg of seed.
According to Khima Poudel, each member has been earning around Rs 5,000 monthly while the factory has so far earned Rs 400,000 in two year. The total investment in the factory is 2.2 million rupees. The factory received 1.4 million in grant while 40,000 is loan. The factory has the capacity of producing 6 thousand pieces of shop monthly. Bhujle further informed that they are planning to sell soap of worth Rs 500,000 this year.
Bhujel claimed that their product is totally herbal as there is no presence of any chemical agent in the soap. The soap uses coconut oil, glycerin, scents along with the ginger, lemon juice and other natural products.