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People ridiculed our tea plantation, now they envy us: story of tea producer Rai



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By Hari Prasad Koirala, Morang, Sept.26: Most Nepalis consider Jhapa and Illam districts as the region of top most commercial tea garden in the country.

And it may come as a surprise to many that a tea garden in relatively approachable district of Morang has also become successful commercially.

Started by Narayan Rai in 1998, the tea garden at a remote village of Singha Devi in Kerabari-2 of Morang has now become commercially successful in all respects.

Some 22 years ago, when there was no infrastructural development, Rai started tea farming in 50 ropani of land, which has now been expanded to 250 ropanis.

Rai spent a good chunk money amounting to hundreds of thousands in tea planation business at a time when there was no good business prospects in his village has now started to reap the benefits of the business.

Adventurous in business, Rai invested all his earnings that he made while working as a migrant workers in Oman for 11 in the tea plantation.

Rai has a good facilitated house building at Letang Bazar and there were ample opportunities for doing business at his hometown.

But, he opted for changing a barren fallow hill into a green hill with tea plants.

Bina Khajum, Narayan Rai's spouse, who supports him pouring her labor on the farm all day and night said, “At first, we were ridiculed by people while planting tea on an infertile land. They made fun of our business model and idea of tea plantation.”

Saying that she never felt satisfaction and happiness while planting tea on the desolate and deserted terrain, Bina added that it was tougher to manage everything during the conflict era of 1996-2006.

Now, Rai's Motherland Tea State Company produces five thousand kilograms of green tea annually.

Rai has his own refining machine for the green tea produced in the garden.

Bina Kajum said, "Demand of our green tea is high and we are not able to meet the demand."

Some 50 local people have got employment in Rai's garden.

After being awarded with Presidential hounour for his continuity in tea business in 2014, the Rai couple got further motivated to tea planation business and expanded their garden.

 Bina said, “The award motivated us so we added an additional 50 ropani of land for tea planation because of which, an additional responsibility has been added."

Inspired by the success of the Rai couple, many locals including Buddha Man Rai and Dakal Singh Rai have started tea planation business in infertile slope farmland thinking they could also 'grow money' in the field.

Dakal Singh said that he had just started a farm and that it was doing well.

Singha Devi was one of the most remote local bodies among the then existing eight village development committees in southern part of Morang district.

Now people are seeking plot to build houses at Singha Devi seeing the success of the farmers there.

There is no load-shedding at Singha Devi although adjacent wards ward 1 and 7 of Lotan Municipality lack electrification.

Following easy availability of safe drinking water and electricity, the rate of migration from the village has been reduced, said a local, Bhim Bahadur Thakuri.

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