Nepali Organic Coffee Experiment in Marbhu Dolakha

Organic Coffee: A Sustainable Income for Local Farmers

Mission : Experiment with coffee arabica to assess, if coffee can be used for soil conservation and as commercial crop.

Project 2019 – 2023 : We have planted 20 coffee plants in 2019 -a mix of bourbon and typical-, trained the local committee how to nurture, fertilize and harvest and started a cooperation with the Nepali Organic Coffee Products to roast and pack our beloved arabica coffee. Our first harvest was in 2023 and we harvested around 20KG of arabica coffee.
In total, 5 families participated in the project.

Introduction : In Marbhu Dolakha, a little village close to our hospital in Mainapokhari, the local government informed us about a big piece of land that was not used anymore. We agreed to start an experiment and to grow coffee, initially for soil conservation but after the first harvest, we would also use it as a commercial crop. 

Coffee bushes grow well on steep, shaded land prone to soil erosion that is unsuitable for other crops. The plant was thuerefore a very good choice to prevent soil erosion – but it soon became apparent that it also had significant economic potential. In Kathmandu, many coffee shops are being opened and youngsters enjoy a cup of coffee during the day instead of tea. Coffee grown in Nepal, produced by Nepali in an organic way, is the new buzz.

In Marbhu Dolakha, we already have our Turmeric project running strong, so it was a small organizational step to extend it to growing coffee.

Locals were trained how to avoid pests and diseases, and how to cultivate organically. Quality processing of coffee beans was introduced, corresponding to the demands of high quality export markets. Training curricula for coffee production and processing, leading to a certificate qualification, were devised in collaboration with the local authorities.

Follow up project 2023-2026: Based on the outcome of the project, we are looking forward to extend it to 1000 coffee plants. As it takes 2-4 years to grow the first beans, we want to start with a larger scale operation to be able to have 2000 kg of arabica coffee available in 2025-2026. This coffee will be organic (bio) and will be sold to premium coffee shops in Kathmandu looking for premium quality. With an average wholesale price of 2000 Nepali Rs per kg, or 13 CHF per kg, the income of each family involved will increase by 200 CHF per month. The initial investment cost of 1000 coffee plants is forecasted at 4500 CHF. Therefore the total project costs are small related to the potential revenue of 26000 CHF. Labor is set by the local community and transport to roast the coffee beans is organized for free by the local government.

Projects Facts

Project Title: Organic Coffee Farming
Sector: Agricultural
Region: Dolakha
Country: Nepal
Executing Agency: Samundra Nepal
Sponsoring NGO: Peter Soons
Calculated Budget: CHF 4,500
Timelines 2023 to 2026
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