Chuda Raj Sharma has lived in Sindhuli’s Khaniya Kharka his whole life, part of the 6th generation of his family to live there. His bright pink and blue home sits 1,315 meters above sea level and has spectacular views of the Himalayas when the weather is clear.
Now a very successful business man, he has made his living from farming the ‘Junar’ fruit. Originating from a respected word when speaking to Royalty meaning ‘to eat’, the Junar fruit is a type of sweet orange. Khaniya Kharka’s climate and environment provide the perfect setting for the fruit to flourish.
Although a career in politics was an option in his family, Chuda began working as a fruit farmer to follow in the footsteps of his father Bhoj Raj Sapkota. A highly respected member of the community, Bhoj is known locally as the ‘Father of Junar’. Chuda and his father have now been in the business for over 42 years and now he now helps to train others in fruit farming and runs businesses selling jam, juice, wine and more.
But business wasn’t always smooth. Early on, his father almost gave up on agriculture as the land and climate were only suitable for growing rice. An innovative agricultural officer suggested that he try Junar farming as an alternative. Even as Bhoj grew his first fruits business was difficult: with dangerous roads, he needed to carry the Junar by hand into the market.
When Chuda took over the business, he wanted to make the most of it. He invested his own money to build a suitable road that made it more accessible to the market and allowed for visitors to come and visit his new nursery named ‘Pahadi Falful Nursery’. To this day people come to visit regularly and Chuda is more than happy to invite guests to see his fruit and educate anyone on his livelihood.
Now, Chuda has visitors from all over the world. The Nepali government even recommends tourists, students and all forms of the agricultural sector to visit his farm. Still, his sights are set higher. Chuda eventually wants to take Junar to the World Trade Organisation to gain more recognition for the fruit. Moreover, Sindhuli is set to become a ‘super zone’ next year meaning it will be famous for its Junar production, allowing more than 10,000 hector of land dedicated to Junar farming.