THE BUTTER TREE OF NEPAL
The Chiuri tree is a medium sized tree
native to Nepal. It grows mainly in the
sub-Himalayan tracts on steep slopes,
ravines and cliffs at an altitude of 400
to 1400 meters, particularly in the
Chitawan district. Its botanical name
is Diploknema butvracea Roxb syn.
Bassia butyracea, syn. Madhuca
butyracea, syn. Aesandra butyracea).
It is also named "butter tree". The
main product of the tree is "ghee" or
butter, extracted from the seeds and
named "Chiuri ghee" or "Phulwara
Figure 1: Chepang people training in the Kandrang
Valley with an oil expeller in the backgound.
©Emma Judge/Practical Action
Availability of the raw material
There is no reliable data on production of Chiuri and its ghee production in Nepal. It is sold by
the farmers in a dried form at 12 per pathi (about Rs 5 per kg). The annual production ranges
from 60-500 Kg. with an average production of 175 Kg per farmer. Generally, farmers sell 50-
60 percent of their total production. The study revealed that the production per tree ranges from
minimum of 1 to 14kg averaging about 5.25 kg per tree. Similarly, the yield of the fruit per
hectare is estimated to be 100-800kg. The number of tree per hectare is estimated to be 37-90
with an average of about 40.
The Chiuri tree is found on steep and difficult slopes. Climbing the tree is difficult and it is
dangerous to harvest the Chiuri fruit. In many instances people fall from the trees and succumb
to serious injury; sometimes loss of life occurs. The producers place doko (traditional basket) on
one shoulder, pick up the fruit with their other hand and place it into the doko. Normally, the
men climb the trees and women gather the fruit that has fallen to the ground. Children also help
in the gathering of the fruit.
Importance of chiuri tree among Chepang Community
Chepangs are known for the immense knowledge on forestry
products and their collection and preparation. They have
special relationship with Chiuri trees as they have custom of
giving Chiuri trees to their daughters as gift during marriage.
Hence, it is regarded as private resources.
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