The story of the founder of Shakti Organic Factory

A guest blog by: Esther Penunia, Secretary General, Asian Farmers’ Association for Sustainable Rural Development 
Edited by: Linh Le

Meet Nirmala Shrestha, a Nepali teacher, a daughter of a farming family, and a cancer survivor. She is the brain, the inspiration, the founder and owner of the three-year-old Shakti Organic Fertilizer Factory in Nepal. 

Photo: Nirmala Shrestha- the founder of Shakti Organic Fertilizer Factory in Nepal, ©AFA/Esther Penunia 

What inspired Ms. Nirmala? 
Nirmala said that farmers in Nepal use too much chemical fertilizers which are not good for the soil and health of the people. With that in mind, she mobilized 50 shareholders to the company, some of whom are teachers, some are businesspersons, and some are farmers. She made a search on Google on how to make organic fertilizers and hired one technician. Now she has 16 people working in the factory. The factory got 50 per cent subsidy from the government for the machines, after a long application process. 

Photo: The Shakti Organic Fertilizer Factory in Nepal, ©AFA/Esther Penunia 
The organic fertilizer is a mixture of cow dung, pig and chicken manure, fruit and vegetable wastes, bone wastes, rice hull, and even cow urine. The factory gets the fruit and vegetable wastes from a nearby market. The fertilizer costs 25 rupees per kg, but government subsidizes 10 rupees per kg so the farmer pays only 15 rupees. The government provides 75 kilos of fertilizer subsidy for every half hectare of land. The factory was recently awarded by Agro Times, a national newsprint media in Nepal.

Photo: A product of Shakti Organic Compost, ©AFA/Esther Penunia 

Ms. Nirmala attended many training seminars, one of which was by the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). She was very happy to meet new friends from SEWA. Now she wants to know how to run the factory as a cooperative. So All Nepal Peasant Federations Association (ANPFa), which is the National Implementing Agency of the Medium Term Cooperation Program Phase Two (MTCP2) is linking them to another cooperative.

The MTCP2 is a five-year program supported by IFAD, Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and European Union (EU) and is aimed to build the capacities of farmer organizations in 17 countries to effectively deliver services to their members and engage in policy work with their governments and partner development institutions.

Nirmala’s effort and hard work served as a great inspiration to the MTCP2 South Asia group that visited her on 10 September 2016. We are looking forward to following her future achievements and her company’s business. 

Photo: Nirmala Shrestha and the members of MTCP2 South Asia group, ©AFA/Esther Penunia