Swathed in thick jackets, sensible shoes,and welcome garlands our small delegation trudge through the enthusiastic coffee villages, observe the ‘cherry’ sorting, pulping and composting, inspect ‘parchment’ drying on rooftops, and admire nurseries of thriving saplings in homemade greenhouses. We are briefed on market linkages for the unroasted beans, and savour organic fruit and vegetable produce grown by the same innovative women’s groups.
Driving home through Nuwakot’s capital, Bidur, last week at the end of a long day, diggers, trucks and bulldozers were plying the border highway, shaping culverts, gabion cages and road surfaces. The Trisuli riverbed is rapaciously mined for gravel and sand. Our vehicle is heavy with gifts in appreciation of Ambica’s work: fragrant cauliflowers, onions, yams and huge cabbages, the soil still clinging to their stalks. As we crest the Kathmandu Valley rim we are greeted with an ocean of glittering lights. The city roads are rough and pitted with no sign of that rural diligence, but perhaps one day our capital’s cappuccinos will be made with organic mountain coffee from Nuwakot.