In April 2014, I made my first visit to Nepal for mountain climbing in the Himalayas.
For me, Nepal was so different and unique - yet I felt like I was coming back to a long-forgotten place. I was charmed by vivid lives and vitality of its people.
Desire to create jobs in Nepal
One day, I 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. I 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 an environment. Hence, many young people seek to go abroad to countries such as Japan, Malaysia, the Middle East, and other places, looking for jobs.
I 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, with the profit reinvested to create jobs in other poor countries in the world. If such a virtuous cycle could be created and maintained, we could contribute to society in the form of a sustainable business. This is what we anticipate for the world.
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. However, fruits made in Nepal currently represent only 30% of total consumption. The rest is imported from India and China.
We, Our Farms, want to change this situation. We have thus selected strawberries as our first product as they can be of high grade and be used in various processed foods.
In April 25, 2015, when I attempted to summit Everest, Nepal was hit by a major earthquake. I offer my condolences to all the victims. The earthquake, however, made me realize the importance to contribute to development of living and society of Nepalese. I am excited to have started selling the best grade strawberries made in Kakani Village in Nepal from 2016.
- Nanami Wakayama