Paras Katuwal, winner of the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards (GSEA) Nepal, is the CEO of Nepal Thopa Sinchai Pvt. Ltd., which supplies advance agricultural and smart irrigation tools and services to farmers and institutes working in technology based modern agriculture. It is a pioneering company in the field of complete irrigation package in Nepal providing delivery of drip and sprinkler irrigation, fogger system as well as fertilization equipment for small land holders, commercial agricultural farms, golf courses, hotel gardens, residential and offices premises. It also provides training packages, counseling to new farmers and does feasibility study for commercial agriculture including layout and farm design. In an interview taken by our Glocal Khabar Lead, Ms. Shreyasa Dhakal, with Mr. Paras Katuwal, he shares his story of all that he had to go through in life. Following are his responses to the questions asked to him.
Tell us in brief about your phase before giving your business a start.
It was around the time when I was as young as 16 years old, and was very confused back then. There was a debate in mind whether to stay here or go abroad; and it was always much probable for me to opt for the latter. But my father, who had lived long in a foreign land, said that despite his long stay there, he did not happen to achieve anything great as such and he resulted being here in Nepal with some money only. So, basically, he asked why I wanted to waste my life like that and be right where he was then. I, however, wanted to go abroad still, get some freedom, but I still do not understand what struck me, I realised that even if I become someone and return home, I was not sure if I could take care of my parents and provide them with full support. I had the same doubt whirling in mind all the while, and finally, I decided to drop down my ultimate craze of living life abroad; rather thought of starting a venture here. It was during my attainment of plus two education, I even did A-levels to go abroad and study, because back then, there was this mentality that if we do A-Levels, then we will get a better luck at living abroad. But soon enough, I figured things out. We had a shop and a land. I kept learning more and more about agriculture. I was very much interested in business too, aspects relating to profits and sales, it all grabbed my attention. My aims and ambitions inclined with that path, so I kept going only. I knew there was much to learn and grow, but, since I had the vision already, I took steps to pursue and live in the dreams.
What is the reason behind you choosing the particular name like “Nepal Thopa Sichaai” for your initiation?
We have, just recently, improvised the name “Nepal Thopa Sichaai” to “NTS”. Our product is designed in a way where there is a pipe, which is designed in a way where droplets of water reaches to the roots of every crop. For instance, if there are 10,000 plants in a field, then it is difficult for people to irrigate water to each crop. The process that we came up with is called Thopa Sichaai, and that is basically how we came up with the name at the start. This was a technology invented in Israel. In English, we call it Drip Irrigation System.
By now, we are doing so much in agriculture; we are into greenhouse (protected cultivation), we are involved in 20 projects. We started off as a seller, but now, it is so much more than just selling services as we’ve grown so much. We are working in pumps, we are working in solar irrigation pumps and all that; so now, the name doesn’t quite fit to all the services we are providing. We are thus, rebranding our name as NTS.
What do you foresee to deliver with your company in the long run?
There have been many changes and improvements from the time it was first established. We are going to continue this for the time being, because we should first build up our own capacity. So, we’ll take some time to grow our expertise in all the works that we are currently carrying out and master in it. We’ll try and manufacture it ourselves and reduce our cost. After that attempt, we’ll try to export this to India, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Pakistan. We are also trying to open a chain, where farmers can come and buy technologies at a super low cost. For this we are trying to develop strategies, and we have started it from Chitwan already, we’ll go to Butwal then we have plans to go to Nepalgunj also. We have already set our goals in mind, but, yes, we have to work hard on our strategies to reach up to the targets.
In your view, what is one key need of agriculture in the current situation?
Sometimes it is quite disheartening, because even after pouring in so much of effort, the result is not very satisfying. But taking into consideration of how things were 5 years prior to now, there have actually been some drastic changes. Previously, when we used to aware people about Drip Irrigation, we didn’t use to get any responses at all; not even four or five farmers had bought the technology. Now, we have already crossed 25000 farmers who have bought and used the technology. This is one positive aspect that we can get to witness.
The negative one is that people come and see how expensive tools and technologies are. They like the technology but aren’t being able to afford it. The next is that, people have lack of knowledge in agriculture. Many still do not know about the technologies that exist at present, let alone use them.
What kind of support system does it need to move forward?
At the present context, I feel like it is the involvement of banks that is most called for. Financing, I feel, is most needed. No matter in whichever sector the banks go, they’ll end up disrupting the market; everyone can buy houses, afford for automobiles. There are other requisites that are needed too, but in my personal opinion, bank should try and work more into agriculture, which I believe will ultimately provide a boost to the sector. Also, there are government policies, but they still need to improve that. The next is that, the farmers are of our grandfathers age, so whatever practices they are executing goes into a repeat mode, their sons, then the sons of sons keep continuing with the same practices.
What is one message you would like to give our young aspiring entrepreneurs?
If one wants to be an entrepreneur, there isn’t a single way to it. One doesn’t need to just open a Hyundai showroom or establish a bank to be an entrepreneur. People, till the age of 40, are considered to be as youth. What I want to suggest to 25 years old people is that, you have to invest to be able to own something. Do minimal business, try and export and that’ll help much too.