Having crossed 20 springs in my life, I have never seen such positive impact of agritourism in any locality. Bhurjungkhola in Sardikhola VDC of western Nepal has well integrated two major income generating sources of Nepalese livelihood, i.e. Agriculture and Tourism to uplift the standard of the community. The Bhunpare-Ghalekharka trekking route under Annapurna Conservation Area Project and the Tatopani pilgrimage Site were the well known examples of the popularity of the tourism industry in the local community in this VDC. However, both of these sites never really attracted Tourists in the prolonged basis as the former site is now in verge of extinction after the establishment of the roadway transport in the area and the latter being completely destroyed by the disastrous Seti river Glacial breakdown in the early 2011. At present days, the effort of two people: Amrit Gurung and Lakschin Gurung originally from this same VDC have now played a significant role in promoting Agri-tourism business in this region.
Located about 217 KM north west from the capital city of Nepal Kathmandu, the then grazing land has now been changed into Gandaki Rainbow trout fish farm. The two Gurungs perfomed trial on the fish farming 3 years ago with the initial investment of 0.3 million. After finding the water quality most suitable for the Trout fish species, extra 6.5 million was spent on building the infrastructure for fish farming and a restaurant for center of distribution of the fish. This agriculture farm attracts around 3500 tourists (internal and external) monthly and has made remarkable changes in economic, social and cultural aspects of the community. Being named as the Agriculture pocket model area by the Pokhara Chamber of Commerce, this farm has taken the agriculture sector to the next step. The local organic vegetables ( Tusa, kurilo, Neuro) have been consumed by the restaurant and purchased by the tourists. The vegetable products have got market in this place which has reduced the transportation cost of farmers.
According to Gurung, the arrival of tourists teaches a lot of things, generally there is change in fashion, lifestyle and daily language of people.The rapid economic return of the products gives a lot of encouragement to the farmers.Bambahadur Gurung, Sarad Singh Bhandari, Indra Gauchan are the list of names who have followed the footsteps of the two Gurungs utilizing the climatic suitability of the area for farming. Likewise, Preetilal Gurung, Bhawendra…..and many other farmers have invested in commercial agriculture as their product have received reasonable price and nearby market. Bishnu Devi Acharya, a local inhabitant says the level of confidence is high among the farmers as they have now got a role model as the owner of farm. The increase in income of the farmers has enabled them to establish a cooperative which provides loan to farmers in minimal interest rate.
Thus,the impact seems overwhelming for the local peoples , yet they have a long way to go in establishing their village as a top agritiourism destination on national and international basis.
Watch this video that i prepare during my expedition exploring Gandaki Rainbow Trout Farm