Sweet orange farmers get a taste of successFarmer Arjun Prasad Koirala of Baseshwor VDC-6 is in an upbeat mood this year as he has earned Rs200,000 by selling his harvest of sweet oranges.
Farmer Arjun Prasad Koirala of Baseshwor VDC-6 is in an upbeat mood this year as he has earned Rs200,000 by selling his harvest of sweet oranges.
In the past, when he was growing millet, he would make at most Rs5,000 annually. Today, his income has swelled several-fold after he started commercial cultivation of sweet oranges.
“I sold 35,000 sweet oranges this year,” he said, adding that his increased earnings had boosted his standard of living. “I am fully satisfied with my income now.”
Sweet oranges have a distinctive sweet taste and are rich in Vitamin C and minerals. They are considered to be a special fruit of Nepal as they are rarely found in other countries. Although the sweet orange output was down this year, growers are happy as they received good prices for their product.
Koirala’s sweet orange harvest has declined too, but he is still happy. “This year, I sold sweet oranges for Rs5 apiece compared to Rs3 last year.” Encouraged by the increase in his earnings, he plans to double the size of his sweet orange grove. Koirala has also earned Rs100,000 by selling oranges this year.
As the government and non-governmental organizations have been promoting the cultivation of citrus fruits, farmers have been attracted towards commercial farming.
A large number of farmers like Koirala have earned decent incomes from sweet oranges this year. Begh Bahadur Ale Magar earned Rs200,000. “The sweet orange harvest was small this year, but due to a rise in prices, I earned a good income this year too,” he said.
Magar said that he had repaid all his loans with the money and planned to expand his farm. After a juice factory was opened in Sindhuli, farmers have been encouraged to produce sweet oranges as they don’t have any difficulty finding markets and getting good prices.
This year, Sindhuli district earned Rs300 million from its harvest of 15,000 tonnes of sweet oranges, said the District Sweet Orange Cooperatives Association.
“Due to hailstorms, production has been hit to some extent,” said Nirmal Kumar Ramtel, president of the association. There are 34 cooperatives engaged in growing and processing sweet oranges in the district. They have more than 3,000 farmers among their membership.
Ramtel said that sweet orange farming was expected to double in five years due to the increasing number of farmers going for commercial production.
Sindhuli is the largest sweet orange producer in the country, followed by Ramechhap and Dhankuta districts. Sweet orange plants start to bear fruit from the fifth year and they stabilize around the eighth year.
In the fifth year, each tree yields around 5 kg of the fruit. The output starts increasing and reaches around 60-70 kg from the eighth year. The trees keep producing fruits for 15-20 years.
Sweet oranges normally take 240-280 days to mature. In Sindhuli, harvesting of the fruit starts in October and lasts till January.
According to a survey conducted by the Agribusiness Promotion and Marketing Development Directorate of the Ministry of Agricultural Development, sweet oranges are cultivated on 1,077 hectares in Sindhuli.
The survey shows that 25 percent of the output is consumed at the household level while the rest is sold.
Meanwhile, a One Village, One Product programme has been launched in four VDCs of Sindhuli district, namely Ratanchura, Baseshwor, Tinkanya and Jalakanya to promote cultivation and handle marketing.