A family that works together stays togetherThe Bhusals have decided to stay in Nepal to establish a thriving dairy venture
At the corner of a road in Tilottama Municipality that stretches between mustard fields, stands a white one-storey house. In front of it an old tree, and underneath the tree a table and a few chairs.
The neighbourhood is quiet under the pale sun of early spring. The only sounds are of rustling leaves, punctuated by occasional grunts and moos from a nearby shed.
Madan Bhusal, 27, is busy preparing feed for the cattle as his employees clean the shed. Inside, his wife Ambika and sister-in-law Sanchita prepare lunch as they wait for Pawan, Madan’s brother, to return home from their dairy shop.
It has been nearly seven years since the Bhusals moved to Tilottama from Nawalparasi in search of a better life. Over the years, this dairy farm has been their home and the source of a proper livelihood.
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“We moved here because there was a larger market than back in Nawalparasi,” says Madan. “When we started out, there weren’t many commercial dairy farmers here. We saw the opportunity to fill the gap.”
Madan’s parents were farmers too, so he took easily to rearing and milking cows and buffaloes. Like many in their village, their family too was involved in animal husbandry but on a much smaller scale. But as he grew older, Madan felt constricted by the narrow market and wanted to expand the business. He looked at Narayangad and Butwal, studying the dairy market in both the areas.
Of the two, he felt Butwal offered better opportunities. “It was a growing market, and I knew we could tap into it if we strategised and worked hard,” he recalls.
He ferried some of the family livestock from Nawalparasi and started the business from scratch with his brother. The family now owns 16 buffaloes and 45 cows, and together operates Narayani Gai Bikas Farm.
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It now produces 350 litres of milk every day which is sold directly to customers through the Pawan Dudh Dairy shop by the highway in Kotihawa. Apart from milk, the farm also produces paneer, yogurt and other dairy products. Business is thriving with an income of Rs150,000-200,000 every month, part of which the family invests back into the business.
“What sets us apart from others is that we don’t mix water in our milk, and we ensure that our products are of the highest quality,” says Madan.
While Madan monitors the production cycle, his brother Pawan handles the daily distribution, delivering milk to the customer base every day. Ambika and Sanchita help out wherever they can, from looking after the cattle to preparing feed for them and food for the staff.
Both of them are glad that their husbands have chosen the route of entrepreneurship rather than opting to go abroad like many others from their village.
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“I am happy they are here and we get to live together as a family. It is hard work, but we all take care of the chores together and look after each other,” says Ambika.
The enterprising family has had its fair share of challenges in the business. In the initial days when they did not have a milk cooling machine, much of the leftover milk was wasted every day. They soon learnt to make less perishable dairy products to minimise loss.
Pawan does not regret following his brother to Rupandehi despite the hurdles along the way. “If it is about earning money, we can do it in Nepal: “Why bother going abroad and working for others when you can be your own boss and live with your family?”
Ironically, even while Madan and Pawan have established a thriving dairy business in Nepal, their biggest challenge is to find farm workers, as most young Nepalis in the area have migrated abroad. But the brothers don’t want that problem to get in the way of their expansion plans. Says Pawan, “The next step is to scale the business both in production and distribution.”
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Sahina Shrestha is a journalist interested in digital storytelling, product management, and audience development and engagement. She covers culture, heritage, and social justice. She has a Masters in Journalism from New York University.