“What do you want to become in the future?” is a frequently asked question by parents, relatives and teachers when we are young. The answer is often doctor, engineer, and other “white collar” jobs. Most of the parents too share similar dreams for their children. No one quite considers working in farms as an ideal profession.
Brought up in a similar environment, Kamal Singwang, too didn’t have any different aspirations. Singwang, as a Project Manager had worked in multiple countries- Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Turkey, Qatar, and France. He was taken by surprise, in one of his trips to France, where he witnessed French people revering farmers as mothers— them, being the creators. Inspired by this, he pledged to redefine the notion surrounding agriculture in Nepal. Moreover, his job abroad did not make him feel fulfilled, although the job was paying well. So, in his pursuit of self-satisfaction and in hopes of doing something good for Nepal, he decided to return back and open his own farm.
In 2071 BS, Singwang opened a poultry farm in Sundarijal. He named it “I.S Poultry Farm” after his father, Indra Kumar Singwang (I.S). Singwang was a novice in agro-business. But his family, his father and brother, had been involved poultry farming at a small scale with 2300 chickens earlier. With insights from his family members, along with training on poultry farming and a farm visit in Andhra Pradesh, he learned to manage the farm in no time.
Singwang’s journey as an agro-entrepreneur took off once he built two coops at an investment of 8-10 lakhs. After two months, he added two ‘bigger’ and ‘advanced coops’ at an investment of 12-13 lakhs. His farm now has the capacity to accommodate 13,000 chickens, but currently he is planning to raise 10,000 chickens with an estimated profit of Rupees 9 lakhs.
Singwang was greatly troubled by the hassles at government offices for the registration of the farm and other tax payment procedures during the initial phase of the farm. Even though there are rules written clearly on paper, in reality, things do not function accordingly, and it’s frustrating’, he says. He asserts that returning migrant workers only leave for foreign employment again due such cumbersome processes. The economic blockade of last year was equally disheartening for him. He had made a profit of 7 lakhs in his starting days, but all the efforts went in vain due to economic blockade that led to the loss of 32 lakhs. During the blockade, the price of chicken feed and the travel expenses skyrocketed, and for six months his farm continued incurring significant losses. Nevertheless, he did not lose his confidence. He was hopeful that the hard time would pass. His family constantly supported and consoled him that the lessons and experiences he has earned from these difficulties would prepare him to do better in the long run.
In the process of running and managing the farm, Singwang realized that the existing bureaucracy among the hatchery associations has been making it extremely difficult for small holder farms to buy quality chicks at the right prices. Since the price rates for both buying the chicks and selling the chickens are not fixed, the marketing process is difficult and time-consuming. So, he believes that poultry farming could become much easier if ceilings for the maximum price and minimum price of buying chicks and selling chicken are set and monitored by the government. He also added that doing so would make planning business activities much easier as farmers can more accurately estimate profits, and avoid unaccounted heavy losses.
Even though running a farm in Nepal was quite challenging, he did not give up on his dreams. He believes that his family is his biggest strength and that support from them always kept him going. Witnessing many people his age being highly dependent on their family, he realized that what he was doing was an accomplishment.
He is immensely motivated to put in much more effort now that he is working in his own country. His willingness and progressive beliefs are praiseworthy. Watching his farm grow and realizing that he’s contributing to his own country, he feels fulfilled. ‘I was just an employee yesterday, but today I am my own boss. I can do any business and provide employment opportunities and training to others for them to earn a sustainable livelihood,’ he says proudly. He says that through this experience, he has not only learned how to manage a farm but has also learned to improve relations with his fellow workers. He feels that it is necessary to listen to everyone, including your workers, as they are the key to learning and bring innovative ideas and suggestions for the farm to flourish and grow.
Finally, Singwang believes that there would be a bigger market for poultry farming if every district were self-sufficient in chicken meat production. The problem lies in heavy imports from India which makes it difficult for the locals to get good prices as per the quality of their production. As for the future entrepreneurs planning to pursue agriculture, he advises, “Every business constitutes of risks but with support from family and friends and a little self-confidence, you can do anything.” He also adds that there are plenty of opportunities in Nepal itself, and foreign employment is not always the best option; raising about 500-1000 chickens you can earn a good income while staying in your hometown with your family.