It’s early dawn in Bhaktapur’s Duwakot village and 31-year-old Ram Kumar Basnet is already up and about. Basnet is a dairy farmer and he has milk to deliver. But he must feed and milk the cows first.
He has a five-year lease on the land where he raises his cattle and looks after his family. He lives in a small hut with his wife and their two children—a daughter and a son.
Basnet says even though he was born in Nagaland, India, his ancestral home is in Ramechhap district. He has five brothers and, like him, they too are uneducated and depend on farming for livelihood.
One of the brothers runs a poultry business close to Basnet’s cow farm. The brother also lends a hand in milk-packaging and transport. By the time morning light starts getting brighter, Basnet is ready to hit the road. He ties large milk jars to his motorcycle, a red Honda CB Hornet, and sets out to deliver milk to his customers.
After completing his morning round, he returns home and rests for a while before starting the second-half of his daily work. Basnet has nine cows and two calves to look after. Each cow is milked twice a day, and gives up to nine liters of milk. Basnet says he sells up to 80 liters of milk a day. Besides his regular customers, he also supplies milk to various dairy shops in Bhaktapur and Kathmandu.