August 4: Gagan Pradhan, the founder of Nepal's famous Himalayan Java Coffee, shared his bittersweet experience with New Business Age about his two-decade long entrepreneurial journey.
During the interview, he shared that Nepal's coffee is of the highest quality in the world, and it is necessary to increase the government's efforts to promote cultivation of coffee in the country. According to him, farmer’s attraction towards coffee farming can be increased if necessary training, publicity, and subsidies are provided by the government.
Due to the lack of necessary training, required skills, and investment, the farmers are not much interested in coffee farming compared to other cash crops. Due to these reasons, they could not produce coffee as per the demand, says Pradhan. According to him, there is a lot of potential for exporting coffee produced in Nepal. His experience says that the government has not been able to do the required homework for exporting coffee.
Because of the lack of knowledge that crush farming (other cultivation along with coffee) is done during coffee cultivation, the farmers' interest in it has not increased. It is difficult to grow coffee as the production starts after 6-7 years of planting, shares Pradhan.
According to him, the annual consumption of coffee in Nepal is 10,000 metric tons. Nepalese coffee is 100 percent organic. He said that the farmers were unaware that coffee is sold for as much as Rs 1,200 per kg. As Nepal is not able to produce coffee in accordance to the demand, it is being imported from countries like India, Italy, Thailand, and Indonesia.
Pradhan, who went to Australia for higher education, learned to make coffee there. After completing his studies, he came back with the intention of doing something in Nepal and went to America to learn more about management. He again took coffee-making training, learned the method, and returned home with the coffee-making machine. At that time, only five-star hotels sold coffee in Kathmandu. Only instant coffee was available at cheap prices in tea shops and restaurants.
Pradhan says Himalayan Java has played an important role in developing coffee culture in Nepal since the past two decades.
Pradhan established Himalayan Java with an investment of around Rs 1.3 million after a market survey in the initial stage. He also shared the experience that some people were initially mistaken with Himalayan Java for a furniture store or a computer training center.
His company is currently involved in coffee farming as well as importing coffee and providing barista and bakery training. Pradhan informed that his business started from Heritage Plaza in Kathmandu and has reached 40 outlets in the country and abroad. Fifty percent of the outlets in operation are in the form of franchises. He said that the franchise was given upon the request of the businessmen. Business expansion stopped during the period of coromavirus pandemic. Now, Himalayan Java is working with the goal of expanding the franchise in the cities located along the major highways.
He is of the view that the Nepalese need to promote commercial farming of coffee. For this, there should be a coordination for production and supply chain. If all these can be managed, Nepal will have a good prospect of coffee culture in the days ahead.