Apple grading machine installed after 5 yearsAn apple grading machine that arrived in Jumla five years ago has finally been installed. Apple growers have started grading their harvests using the new equipment which lay gathering dust for half a decade because there was no power to operate it or a place to set it up.
An apple grading machine that arrived in Jumla five years ago has finally been installed. Apple growers have started grading their harvests using the new equipment which lay gathering dust for half a decade because there was no power to operate it or a place to set it up.
The Fruit Development Directorate, Kirtipur of the Ministry of Agricultural Development had donated the machine to the district five years ago under its self-reliance programme for Karnali.
The machine finally came into operation after the District Agriculture Development Office provided a generator and a house to keep the machine. Minister for Agricultural Development Haribol Gajurel recently inaugurated the machine amid a programme. “As the machine will increase the quality of apples, it will benefit the growers,” said Gajurel. “Though late, the grading machine has come into operation,” he said, urging growers to take full benefit from the machine that will assure the quality of their apples. The machine cost Rs8 million. The District Cooperatives Association contributed Rs2 million and the directorate put up the rest. A test run was done after the machine was installed by grading 1 quintal of apples.
“We have graded 1 quintal of apples, and it’s part of the machine test,” said Padam Mahat, chairman of the association. “This is the off season for apples. Grading work will continue from the next season,” he said, adding that grading would enable farmers to get reasonable prices for their harvests. The machine protects apples from being bruised, keeps them clean and selects good apples and packages them.
Farmers have been complaining that despite the good quality of their products, they have not been able to sell them or get proper prices. “Now the grading machine will address the farmers’ concerns,” said Mahat.
Until a few years ago, apples produced in Jumla had to be dumped for lack of buyers and proper quality while the market was flooded with imported fruits, particularly from India.
Things are very different now, as organic apples grown in this far western district of Nepal have become widely popular among Nepali consumers.
As Jumla’s organic apples are relatively cheaper and of better quality compared to Indian products, they are becoming increasing popular. The farm gate price of apple is Rs50 per kg. Jumla’s organic apples cost Rs80 to Rs120 per kg in the retail market depending on the quality. In the wholesale market, their prices range from Rs70 to Rs80 per kg.
Last year, the Karnali region produced 14,000 tonnes of apples. The output in Jumla, Mugu and Kalikot amounted to 3,990 tonnes, 2,923 tonnes and 5,115 tonnes respectively. Likewise, Humla and Dolpa produced 1,438 tonnes and 532 tonnes of apples respectively.