March 2, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Khokana farmers earn Rs. 1million from Chamomile tea

The Nepal Weekly
December 5, 2023

Fields in Khokana Rural Municipality situated some 10 km South from Kathmandu, usually remain barren in the month of Mangshir, after the farmers harvesting paddy. However, Sikali Agricultural and Herbal Production and Processing Group, formed by local people of Khokana a few years ago, started growing Chamomile flower, which is used as herbal tea, by utilizing the barren land during winter.

“Since a few years ago we started planting the saplings of Chamomile flowers, which is not well known for the local farmers in Khokana and the production started from last year,” described Buddhi Ratna Dangol, a representative of Sikali Agricultural Group. The saplings of Chamomile were planted in 14 ropanis of land in Khokana at the initiative of Buddhi Ratna, who received his Masters’ Degree in Science (Botany) from Tribhuvan University and also did post graduation in Environmental Science from Norway.

This has brought about a kind of revolution in the field of agriculture in Khokana, according to Dangol. “After we started planting Chamomile, many farmers of Khokana have shown interest in this cash crops and now more than 60 farmer families have received the saplings from our group and started planting the herbal plant,” he added.

Last year our farmers’ group earned Rs. 1 million from selling the herbal tea and this year the business is sure to grow, said Dangol.

There are 25 members in the farmers group, which is also producing different types of essential oils besides growing Chamomile flower. Each of the local farmers, who grew the herbs in their filed can earn upto Rs. 25,000 in a season by selling Chamomile to the farmers group. “The local farmers are very happy as they can utilize the rice field, which becomes barren after harvesting paddy, and earn money.”

We encourage people to use this herbal tea which has medicinal value and good for mental health, he said. The local farmers can take the saplings from the farmers group and sell at the cost of Rs. 300 per kg. The herbal tea after processing, can earn Rs. 3,500 per kg in the wholesale market.

Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Nepal Academy of Science and Technology (NAST) and Department of Plant Resources, Thapathali have provided helps to the farmers group for the cultivation of the herbs.

The Chamomile flower plants grow up to two feet in height and the sapling gets matured in 4- 5 months after planting. “After planting the saplings in Mangshir, we can harvest the herbs in the month of Chaitra,” said Dangol. A single plant can produce 700 – 800 flowers as the flowers from the plant can be picked up for multiple times, according to Dangol.

After cutting and collecting the flowers they are dried under shade as direct sun light can damage the nutritional values of the herbs, he added. Then they are put under solar drier for a day to remove moisture. Then the flower is ready for packaging and storing.

After the processing the white petalled small flower with yellow colour in the centre can be consumed directly as herbal tea after immersing in hot water for some time.

“Chamomile was introduced in a commercial way in 2046 B.S. though it was found in Nepal much earlier. At that time government owned Herbs Processing Centre took initiative to start commercial harvesting of Chamomile in the southern plains of Nepal known as Terai. Chamomile was used to manufacture essential oil which has good demand in international market,” said Dangol talking to The Nepal Weekly. The oil costed Rs. 50,000 per litre before the Covid 19 pandemic, he said. However, no effort was made till recently to produce herbal tea from Chamomile, according to Dangol. “Here in Khokana, our farmers group started its farming for the purpose of producing herbal tea five years ago.” Chamomile tea stands among top ten tea in international market, according to Dangol. It has medicinal value and is used to treat insomnia, pointed out Dangol. “It helps for sound sleep if consumed before bed.” Consumption of Chamomile tea is also used to relieve stress, he added.