On January 27 and 28, 2023, Pax Earth conducted fruit plants management training for the underprivileged farmers interested on fruit cultivation at Kot Timal village and Poudelthok village in Namobuddha Municipality, Kavre under the fruit garden (FG) project. A Pax Earth team led by president Sujan Koirala along with secretary Manohar Sapkota and resource person horticulturist Ramhari Prasad Upadhyay traveled to these villages and conducted the training at three fruit gardens. Main objective of the fruit plants management training is to prepare and facilitate the farmers for fruit farming in a systematic way. About 40 farmers could learn and practice to manage the fruit plants and trees in these two days.

Horticulturist Upadhyay shared about the theoretical aspects of pruning, training, manuring, grafting, topworking, and their importance in fruit trees and plants management. Pruning is a practice of removing certain portions of a tree or shrub such as branches, buds or roots that are damaged, dead, and dying due to pests, disease and lack of sunlight or trimming for developing healthy plant and aesthetic purposes. It helps to treat disease, remove hazardous branches, encourage new growth, and facilitate quality fruit production. The goal of training in fruit cultivation is to direct its growth. It is important for a healthy and strong tree. It helps trees to produce early. Grafting is a horticultural technique to join parts from two or more plants so that they appear to grow as a single plant. A grafted plant inserts a piece of one plant (scion or bud) to the roots and the bottom portion of another plant (rootstock). Topworking is a method to graft a new variety (or varieties) onto the trunks or branches of a mature tree. It can make an orchard more efficient by replacing poor quality or unproductive varieties with better ones. Horticulturist Upadhyay demonstrated how to prune, train, manure, graft and topwork on some of the fruit plants and trees at the fruit gardens of farmers Lal Man Tamang, Umesh Khakurel, and Seti Devi Primary School.

On January 27, we conducted the training for 10 highly interested farmers including Umesh Khakurel, Lal Man Tamang, Ramhari Khakurel, Bishnu Raj Bhandari, Indra Raj Bhandari, Ram Prasad Koirala, Dibesh Koirala, Subhas Koirala, Binod Bahadurl Koirala, and Hari Sharan Koirala at the fruit garden of farmer Lal Man Tamang in Kot Timal. On January 28, we conducted the training for 11 farmers including Ram Bahadur Koirala, Uttam B. Badal, Sudarshan Bhurtel, Goma Khakurel, Ramhari Koirala, Ningmar Tamang, Sunita Bhurtel, Keshav Raj Koirala, Subba Tamang, Pramod Koirala and Indra Raj Bhandari at the fruit garden of farmer Umesh Khakurel in Kot Timal in the morning. And, we conducted training for 19 community people including Rajeshwori Bam, Maili Tamang, Kanchhi Tamang, Achyout Prasad Poudyal, Samir Lama Yonjan, Pratap Sing Tamang, Bishnu Tamang, Suman Tamang, Harikrishna Mainali, Chandra Bahadur Lama, Ramsharan Paudel, Urmila Paudel, Maya Tamang, Saraswati Paudel, Ram Kumar Shrestha, Dipendra Prasad Poudyal, Ajay Tamang, Subba Sing Tamang and Ram Lal Shrestha at the fruit garden of Seti Devi Primary School in Poudelthok in the afternoon. Not only the principal Subba Sing Tamang, teachers and staff of Seti Devi Primary School but also the principal of Shree Kalika Primary School Ram Lal Shrestha participated at the training.

Horticulturist Upadhyay made the trainee farmers learn using the proper tools and equipment – secateur, pruning saw, and grafting knife following “learning by doing” approach. The female participation was quite low at the two trainings in Kot Timal while there was a fair number of female participations at the Seti Devi Primary School’s training. The beneficiaries not only learned these important terms of fruit plants/trees management theoretically but also practiced them using proper tools and equipment at the respective fruit gardens. They could practice pruning, training, and topworking on kiwi, apple, pear, lemon, plum, and orange trees. Similarly, they applied manure at a few fruit plants and trees systematically. After manuring, they put water and created mulching around the fruit trees using waste leaves and grasses to maintain the moisture for a long time. Besides, they learned how to graft onto rootstock practically. In the context of Kot Timal, specialist Upadhyay suggested to do pruning, training, manuring, grafting, and topworking in between mid-December and end of January (in late winter or early spring) before new growth begins. We handed a few secateurs, pruning saw, and grafting knives to a few farmers who have performed well in fruit cultivation in Kot Timal. We have handed a secateur and a grafting knife to principal of the Seti Devi Primary School for managing fruits at the school garden.

We have been conducting fruit plants management training in every winter in Kot Timal since 2021. The training has created very positive impacts in fruit cultivation in Kot Timal. The farmers are not only happy to harvest the fruits from the saplings we distributed for the last 3 years but also happy to see their older fruit trees are yielding quality fruits in larger quantity. A few farmers are able to sell their surplus fruits (particularly, kiwi fruits, orange, lemon, and avocado) at the markets in Banepa and Kathmandu. The farmers and teachers, in Seti Devi School, were delighted to gain such a comprehensive theoretical and practical knowledge on fruit cultivation probably for the first time for most of them.

The participants highly appreciated Pax Earth for conducting such an important training program and extended a sincere gratitude to horticulturist Upadhyay for sharing valuable knowledge and inputs. They have assured to apply these knowledge and skills in their respective fruit gardens. They wished that the Pax Earth to continue giving such valuable trainings time and again in future as well.

The training has played an important role in attracting more and more farmers towards fruit cultivation gradually year by year. We expect a few farmers in Poudelthok will involve in fruit cultivation too. We are happy to educate and empower the farmers through such training. We will support them to improve their earnings by involving them in creating commercially viable fruit gardens although it takes some years for trees to mature and yield fruits. After some years’ experiments, we have found that the kiwi fruit is the most viable fruit for farming followed by lemon, apple, and orange in Kot Timal. Nevertheless, we are happy to contribute to earth and environment by planting more and more trees year on year.

Reported by PEN Secretariat!

Pax Earth would like to express a sincere gratitude to horticulturist Ramhari Prasad Upadhyay for his precious time and sharing valuable knowledge and inputs to the underprivileged farmers in Kot Timal and Poudelthok. His continued support has been instrumental in encouraging farmers for fruit farming in Kot Timal. We are thankful to local contact person Umesh Khakurel for contacting the farmers and setting up the training venues for the training at the two gardens in Kot Timal village. We are equally thankful to principal Subba Sing Tamang for contacting the local farmers and setting up the venue for the training at the Seti Devi Primary School. We are grateful to president Sujan Koirala and secretary Manohar Sapkota for holding the trainings successfully.