Tourism is a vital industry in Nepal. Many tourists come here to go for trekking in the Himalayas, and few stay for long in Kathmandu Valley. Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park is situated on the northern fringe of Kathmandu valley and is the ninth large national park in Nepal and named after Shivapuri Peak of 2,732 m (8,963 ft) altitude. It lies about 12 km away from the center of capital city. Having Shivapuri National Park on our door step of kathmandu is a huge asset for us and something we must treasure and promote. By promoting the park and the trekking trails that fall within it, we can increase the number of tourists entering the area, thus increasing the chance for income for the National Parks and also the local communities living within. Tourism generated income is a vital part in sustaining and maintaining our National Parks.
Although people are not allowed to settle in the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park any longer, old communities have existed in and around there for many years, and every day they come into close contact with the park’s wildlife and ecosystems. There is an urgent need to maintain this fragile environment by eliminating the cutting of trees, excessive use of pesticides, and addressing the problems related to waste and sanitation. Rather than simply banning them from continuing the behaviours that can be detrimental to the park, they should be helped to find alternative means of livelihood. As we see the local people should be provided with the resources to solve these problems themselves, and one way of achieving this could be empower them through sharing the benefits of tourism at a local level. Local people will not be motivated to solve these problems unless they can see the benefits for themselves.
On the other hand, we are facing a number of factors that are causing environmental degradation, air pollution, water pollution, deforestation and natural imbalance. One of the reasons behind this is the practice of inorganic farming in rural Nepal. Though chemical farming may increase productivity and income for the farmer, the use of chemicals and pesticides causes damage and infertility not only to soil, natural vegetation, native animals and water pollution; it also creates serious health problems to the farmers themselves, people within the communities and those who consume it.
The main drawback and lacking of organic farming is the commitment to make the change towards better environment practices. There may be multiple reasons, like increased income, lack of technology and knowledge that stop farmers from making the change, but the reasons to make the change to organic farming for a better environment should not be overlooked. We must remember that without a pristine natural environment, we would lose our number one marketing brand of tourism product, Nepal’s Natural Environment, the effect of which would be detrimental to the tourism industry and the livelihoods of thousands of Nepalese.
Of course a farmer will not embark on the changes needed to undertake organic farming if he is not supported and receives no profit from doing so. First and foremost, the man of the land must be able to make a sustainable living from his work. We understand ,the successes for change cannot be made by organic farming alone; it must come in combination with tourism as it provides the market for own consumption and as such we work together to achieve the goal is essential to the success of organic farming. This is where the local community, and more so the Hotel and tourism sectors can come in.
The switch will not initially be easy, but the benefits of organic farming are multiple through all levels of society and most importantly the move towards organic produce, farming methods and life styles is crucial to the future preservation of our environment, the health of community members and the economic stability of the tourism industry.
Organic farming is not exactly a new concept of farming in Nepal. In the past all Nepali farms were organic farms in albeit restricted approach. The newly adopted term has expanded the scope of farm related activities to encompass the entire gamut of farming that includes fishery, poultry or animal husbandry, community lodge, home stay as well, making farming a more comprehensive, all inclusive activity.
The community’s envolement could be the successful conservation and improvement of the national park biodiversity and watershed areas; based on the principle that biodiversity must pay for itself by generating economic benefits, particularly for local people.
The idea behind the current Prakriti Resort and Organic Farm was conceived in 2012 by the name Nepal Farming Organic World. A project brought locals and farmers on board as shareholders. This operated for two years, but was unfortunately irreparably damaged in the 2015 earthquake. The farmers themselves couldn’t afford to reinvest, so a new model needed to be developed.
This is where the present manifestation of the resort comes in. A Kathmandu NGO—the Nepal Environment and Tourism Initiative Foundation (NETIF www.netif-nepal.org )—in collaboration with private tourism sector partners has built the resort, and is bringing locals on board in a number of ways. The two private sector tourism entrepreneurs involved help generate additional funding and build links with the national and international tourism market. Eco-tourism is centred on sustainability, but it also ensures a certain level of quality. That’s why it’s also important for the private tourism sector to participate in the development of infrastructure.
Around 20 hectares of land have been leased on a long-term basis from local farmers. The farmers have helped to develop the resort, and are involved in the construction of the resort’s infrastructure and farming activities on an ongoing basis. Wages earned during the construction of the resort and in the preparation of the construction materials used—such as stones, clay and timber from local farmers’ land—are converted in share values. From our very inception we have committed to operating in a manner that supports and sustains nature. The buildings of the resort were constructed using local materials, according to Nepali mountain architectural and interior design principles, especially the local Gurung style.
Now, Prakriti Resort has created a unique blend of world-class hospitality, comfort and service, along with environmentally friendly design, operations and local community support. This model project aims to provide visitors with an authentic and memorable farm experience as well as employment for the local population and returns for investors, all while contributing to the protection of the environment. The model project will contribute to promoting a sustainable and diversified eco-tourism destination while establishing standards, demonstrations, training and knowledge sharing for better local livelihoods and as well considering the wishes of visitors.
Krishna Shiva Bhakti is one of our partners and also the coordinator who is responsible of keeping conducive environment among the villagers of the Hibung village situated just below our resort. His house lies at very close proximity to our resort and he is also helping constructional and maintenance work of the resort. His is equally active in social work helping those who need help. Depending from his regular schedules he participates in different cultural activities, meetings and training programs in the villages. However, it was a big misfortune to him as his house was collapsed during the massive earth quake occurred in April 2014. However, he managed to rebuild his two storied housekeeping enough rooms for rest of the family member’s and two spare guest rooms which he would like to utilize for a home stay purpose. The kitchen and store areas are kept at the bottom floor and rooms are kept on the first floor. There is a separate small house next to his house where chicken and cattle are kept. He has clean toilet and bath area separated from his main house to be used for common purpose. Since Krishna has taken training on the Home stay management in past, he knows how to function for the purpose and keeps the entire house clean and tidy. There should not be any problem. Our host Krishna makes sure that his guests stay comfortably at his home. Those visitors other than Nepal may need to communicate with Krishna with Physical gesture as his English speaking is basic but his school going children can understand, read and write in English.
TKrishna is very happy living with his mother (Sita Maya), wife (Shreejana) and two sons (Ram and laxman) and one daughter Manisha. Every day, Sita keeps herself busy looking after the household work and the children whereas Krishna looks after organic farm, cattle and the products are sold in the resort. All his children go to school in nearby village. Living with Krishna for few days at his home would be a great learning of Nepalese culture and would be firsthand experience of farming activities. One can join with Krishna in his farm in the process of planting, de-weeding, watering, cultivating depending on the type of season.