May 10: Banana farms in Jhapa are declining due to lack of chemical fertilizers. Benu Parajuli of Kankai Municipality-3, who used to cultivate bananas on 50 bighas of land in the past, now cultivates banana in just 30 bighas of land as the income from farming declined. Parajuli said that even though banana farming started with the objective of creating a 'banana zone', the farmers had to incur huge losses due to lack of fertilizer.
The farmers who received government subsidies by declaring pocket and block areas in the past have now started reducing banana cultivation by returning the land to the landowners. In the past, Durgamata and Kolakheti agricultural farms were cultivating bananas commercially in 400 bighas of land in Kankai Municipality-5, Shivasatakshi Municipality-7, Barhadashi Rural Municipality-6 and Jhapa Rural Municipality-7.
Farmers like Benu Parajuli, Himdal Parajuli, Kul Prasad Chimariya, Laxmi Chimariya and Ganesh Sangraula jointly operated the farm. Although they started collective banana farming by leasing the land of local farmers for five years, they stopped cultivating bananas, and returned the land to the owners after failing to raise investment in three years.
The Durgamata and Kolakheti agricultural farms, known as the largest banana farms in Jhapa, destroyed the banana cultivation in about 100 bighas of land this time. Laxmi Chimariya, chairperson of the farm, said that the production declines when there is scarcity of chemical fertilizers when needed.
Stating that bananas need fertilizers up to three times a year, he complained that the production declined due to the failure in acquiring fertilizer even once last year. Banana cultivation requires fertilizers such as urea, DAP, potassium and phosphorus. The farm had received a grant of Rs 5 million from the Agriculture Knowledge Center for two years on the condition of investing 50 percent in farming.