Subechhya Basnet: Organic Retail Store
Subechhya Basnet is passionate about organic agriculture. Three years ago, she started one of the first organic food stores in Kathmandu which has become a popular market for organic food lovers in the city.
Subechhya Basnet is passionate about organic agriculture. Three years ago, she started one of the first organic food stores in Kathmandu which has become a popular market for organic food lovers in the city. Located within the premises of Bhojan Griha restaurant in Dillibazaar, Subechhya’s Kheti Bazaar sells a diverse selection of organic products including vegetables, lentils, rice, coffee, tea, cheese, spices, seasonal fruits and other items commonly consumed in Nepali households.
Her Inspiration: Subechhya Basnet was raised in an environmentally conscious family that grew their food in their own farm. The love of organically produced food in her family was the main source of inspiration behind her initiative. However, a part of her inspiration also comes from her experiences abroad. While she was in the US for college, she was hugely disappointed by the kind of food being sold in popular markets. “It was difficult to find fresh, chemical free, organic produce in the stores,” she says, “I missed the healthy, home-grown food that I grew up with.”
After completing her studies, she moved to Germany where she found many organic markets that sold produce from organic farms. From there she developed the concept to start a similar retail market of organic products in Kathmandu to fill the dearth of suppliers of organic food in the city. Local markets have been dominated by pesticide and chemical laden food which not only affects the health of the consumers and the farmers but also inflicts damage on the environment.
Challenges: The general lack of awareness among local consumers has been the major stumbling block to Subechhya’s venture. Majority of the public in Kathmandu rely on groceries that come from farmers who grow their crops with the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides as they are necessary means for steady and mass supply of products. There is a common conception that costs of organic products are much higher than inorganic ones, which is true to some extent and which makes people reluctant to go buy foods tagged organic. “But people are not aware about the health and environmental hazards caused by inorganic food,” explains Subechhya, “Our main challenge is to make people more conscious about the food they are consuming, where it comes from and how it is produced. We want people to be aware that switching to organic food is a far healthier option.” The products at Kheti Bazaar come from organic farms in Bhaktapur, Dhulikhel, Paanchthar, Chitwan and places as far as Jumla where chemical fertilizers have never been used and traditional methods of farming are still in practice.
At Kheti Bazaar, Subechhya has seen a rise in the number of Nepali customers over the past three years. “Initially, the majority of our customers used to be foreigners and expats,” she says, “Now 95% of our customers are from Nepali households, and many of them are locals from the Dillibazaar area.” Equipped with passion and persistence, Subechhya is slowly steering Nepali consumers towards the organic path.