Subecchya and Prabighya Basnet talk with strong conviction about the importance of promoting organic food in Nepal. Their family venture, Kheti Bazaar, is a conscious effort to educate us about the food we eat, and persuade us to choose the organic path.
As a student of environmental studies, Prabighya Basnet explains why one should go organic. Firstly, it is fact that the mainstream vegetable market in Nepal is rife with contaminated produce. Farmers are known to use four times the optimal level of pesticides needed for most vegetables. Besides, pesticides have impacts on other parts of the food chain. The population of scavengers like vultures in western Nepal, for instance, is known to be dwindling due to the use of Diclofenac to treat sick cattle. But farmers often use pesticides because of the economics of mass production and the low demand for fresh, organic food.
Considering these issues, the Basnet sisters have developed supply chains with farmers who produce organically outside of the valley. They have categorised their produce into 'Organic by Default' and 'Organic'. The former category consists of fresh produce from Jumla. Being extremely remote and out of the reach of pesticides, Jumla, according to Kheti Bazaar, has always been organic. The category 'Organic' on the other hand consists of produce from fields that have stopped using pesticides for more than three years. Vegetables of the organic category come from Kathmandu, Chitwan, Palpa, Panchthar, and Dhankuta, according to Subecchya.
Kheti Bazaar will soon be providing seasonal vegetables (brinjal, lady finger and cucumber for this season), spices (turmeric, coriander, cumin, and chilli powder), honey, tea from east Nepal, and additional products such as shopping bags made of reused bedsheets, table mats, and newspapers. The retail store aims to cater to households in Kathmandu as well as the expatriate community, and though its products come at a 25 per cent premium, the Basnet sisters are confident people will pay for quality. Kheti Bazaar will be launched on 1 September.
'Organic growth', SHRADHA BASNYAT