Our first encounter with Nepal
In April 2014, Wakayama and I made our first visit to Nepal for mountain climbing in the Himalayas. Wakayama is an entrepreneur and runs a major listed outsourcing service company in Japan. I have dreamed of engaging in international contribution since I was a child. For us, Nepal was so different and unique. Yet we felt like coming back to a long-forgotten place. We were charmed by vivid lives and vitality of its people.
Desire to create jobs in Nepal
One day, we came across an unforgettable scene. Many Nepalese were standing in a long line in front of the Japanese Embassy, in order to get a visa to Japan. We later learned that Nepal is one of the poorest countries in Asia. The average monthly income is around 7,000 yen, or less than 60 dollars, inflation is rising, and there are not enough jobs. Their choices in life are naturally very limited in such environment. Hence many young people try to go abroad to countries such as Japan, Malaysia, the Middle East, and other places, looking for a job to earn money.
Intuitively we felt a desire to create jobs in Nepal. A desire to start up a business with added value that would generate a profit in Nepal. Then the profit would be reinvested and create jobs in other poor countries in the world. If such virtuous cycle can be created, we can contribute to society in the form of a sustainable business. This is what we anticipate.
Make the best strawberries in Nepal
How can we generate added value? Our answer is agriculture. It can create jobs in the place where you were born and use your natural environment to produce crops. After numerous intensive discussions, we felt impelled to produce top-quality farm products with local people, by using suitable varieties from Japan and advanced farming technology developed in Japan.
Nepal is blessed with rich nature, which can bring forth excellent farm products if appropriate fertilizers, cultivation knowledge, and superior breeds are available and are used. In fact, however, fruits made in Nepal represent only 30% of total consumption. The rest is imported from India and China.
We, Our Farms, want to change that distorted situation. We have thus selected strawberries as our first product as they can be of high grade and be used in various processed foods.
On April 25, 2015, when we have tried to climb up to the summit of the Everest, Nepal was hit by a major earthquake. We offer our condolences to all the victims. The earthquake, however, made us realize the importance to contribute to development of living and society of Nepalese. We are excited to start selling the best grade strawberries made in Kakani Village in Nepal from 2016.