Gandaki Urja, which built Nepal’s biggest biogas plant in Pokhara has launched Annapurna Organic Fertiliser to boost farm productivity and reduce the country’s chronic dependency on imported chemicals.
Annapurna Organic Fertiliser comes with a manual on how much to apply for crops, vegetables and fruits. It keeps the soil chemical-free and increases its productivity, as well as help reduce infection and pest infestation resulting in higher yield for the farmers. Each sack contains 15 different nutrients including phosphorus, nitrogen, potash, iron, boron, copper and zinc. GandakiUrja can produce 1,000 tons of fertiliser a year.
Based in Pokhara, Gandaki Urja was set up in 2020 by Kushal Gurung and is being supported by the group Business Oxygen (BO2), which helps entrepreneurs running Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to scale up by injecting equity and providing technical assistance.
The company has enlarged household digesters into an industrial-scale plant that uses climate-friendly technology to turn livestock and farm waste into flammable methane gas, which can replace imported LPG. The effluent is dried to make organic fertiliser.
The technology can be scaled up to significantly reduce Nepal’s growing trade deficit with India and slash its import bill. Annual LPG import from India is currently worth Rs33 billion, which has grown four-fold in the last decade, making up 2.5% of Nepal’s total import bill. Similarly, the country imports 500,000 tons of chemical fertiliser a year, while the demand is 800,000 tons.
Nepal’s corruption and fertiliser crisis go hand in hand. Only five months ago farmers faced a major shortage, which is projected to lead to a decrease in rice production despite a healthy monsoon last year. However, reliance on hybrid seeds and subsidies will increase farmers’ dependence on chemical fertiliser.
Government and aid agencies working on agriculture can help businesses investing in alternatives like organic fertilisers and industrial biogas to scale up with incentives as has been done with hydro, solar and wind power.
The good news is that Nepal is already a world leader in locally-designed household biogas digesters. Across the country, there is over 300,000 biogas, which has significantly improved the health of people while reducing deforestation.