Nepali Times Asian Paints
Nation
Andes to the Himalaya


ROMA ARYAL


PICS: KIRAN PANDAY
AT HOME: Hartmut Bauder feeds his Alpacas, from which he produced a batch of blankets this season at his alpaca farm in Godavari.
The alpacas roam lazily in the meadows amidst a backdrop of forested hills and snow mountains in the distance.

Visitors would be forgiven for thinking they are in the Andes. But this is the Himalaya and the alpacas are roaming around at the Godavari farm of Hartmut and Pramila Bauder.

German-born Hartmut Bauder, a long term resident of Nepal, first introduced five Chilean alpacas to the country
11 years ago with a view to developing the industry for woollen products in the mountains.

Despite hurdles, the couple have persisted with their alpaca start-up. They have bred 10 more and sent five to acclimatise at higher altitudes in Jiri, where the Bauders ultimately want the alpacas, which resemble llamas, to be farmed.

"The villagers in the mountains already have the skills to rear them," says Hartmut, "most already own and know how to shear sheep and yak. Alpacas are little different." Soon, he plans on handing over some of them to locals
in Khumjung, north of Namche Bajar.

After years of experimenting, the couple has finally produced a batch of hand woven alpaca blankets, the first alpaca to be sold in Nepal. Says Hartmut: "We imported the alpacas to show that it can be done.

If someone wants to start now, they don't have to start from scratch."

Alpacas are easy to raise and they feel at home in the Himalaya. "They are as easy, if not easier to rear than cows," says Hartmut. Alpaca wool is five times warmer than sheep wool, doesn't give allergies and baby Alpaca wool is as soft as pashmina.

Besides alpaca wool, Bauder is also experimenting with an olive plantation in Chitlang ( 'Extra virgin in Nepal', #389). The trees are bearing fruit, and Israeli experts who farmed olives in Rajasthan are coming to upgrade the plantation.

Bauder has overcome bureaucratic and technical hurdles to push agricultural products to boost farmer incomes in Nepal. "With its climatic diversity, Nepal can grow anything," he told Nepali Times, "from Macademia nuts, kiwi
to avocado."

The Bauders currently have 15 blankets ready for sale and enough wool for 15 more, available on order. Alpaca is available in 22 natural colours, while additional dyed colours are also available. One blanket weighs two kilos, which is the total amount of wool produced by one alpaca in a year. Each blanket is currently priced at Rs 20,000.

info(at)himalya-plantations.com



LATEST ISSUE
638
(11 JAN 2013 - 17 JAN 2013)


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