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The Journey of Ms. Milan Kumari Khatri: From a simple Farmer to an Enterprenuer

Our story dates back to early 2000 AD , where there were only few tea processing factories in Ilam district. At the same time, thousands of small farmers had planted the tea plant as a cash crop to sell the green leaves to the tea factories aiming to get a better income compared to other traditional crops. As time goes by, the tea plantation area had increased, tea bushes get matured naturally and personal productivity also gets increased. As a result of the gap between the production of green leaves and demand from the factories, price of green leaves decreased sharply from Rs 40/kg to Rs 8/kg. Desperate farmers were compelled to sell their green leaves below their cost of production and the factories often returned their green leaves stating the poor quality of green leaves and many other unjustified reasons. There were chaotic situations among the farmers whether to uproot the matured tea bush and use the land for cultivating other crops.

Among them, Ms. Milan Kumari Khatri-a mother of six children- was also facing the same situation. Nevertheless, being optimistic about getting better price of tea leaves in the future, she decided to make handmade tea herself. Then she started to wither the plucked tea leaves, from their own garden, in the sunlight and then roll gently the leaf by hand and drying in the sunlight and oven of their kitchen. Her husband, Mr. Damber Bahadur Khatri was a Government school teacher and he used to help her after school hours and in holiday. The market of handmade tea was the local villagers, passengers of Mechi Highway and the representative from different organizations. Gradually, the handmade teas got popularity among them and started to increase local market Ilam to Katmandu, the capital city of Nepal. As the increased demand of handmade tea, she realized that she could add the value of their tea leaves including neighbor’s tea by processing in a proper manner so that they need not depend upon the other factories that were paying the lower price for their tea leaves.

In 2008 she registered a cottage industry named Kanchangha Organic Hand Made Tea Industry, purchased a locally made oven for withering and drying tea properly. First couples of years, she processed tea leaves from own garden and buying few neighbor’s tea leaves. After that, she started buying the tea leaves from the entire members of ‘Srijansil Agricultural Co-operative’ paying a better price than other big capacity factories. At the same time, she started to participate in local and national trade fair and agricultural exhibition organized by District Agriculture Development Office, Ilam and Cottage and Small Industry Development Board, Nepal. In the year of 2013 AD she constructed a new tea processing factory at Sakhejung,Ilam with modern tea processing technologies with the collaboration of Commercial Cgricultural Alliance (CAA) Biratnagar, Ilam.

Today the company is producing Organic Tea with modern tea processing technologies in its processing facility at Sakhejung - Ilam, Nepal and marketing & exporting teas on the brand name of ‘Sakhejung Tea’ in different countries of Europe, USA, India, Japan, Taiwan and so on .