Apple farmers upbeat as floor price doublesApple farmer Shanti Shahi is busy harvesting the fruits on her farm in Chandannath village. Production may have dropped sharply this year, but Shahi is not much worried about that.
Apple farmer Shanti Shahi is busy harvesting the fruits on her farm in Chandannath village. Production may have dropped sharply this year, but Shahi is not much worried about that.
“We are getting a good farm gate price this year, and it has compensated for any drop in output,” she said. The farm gate price of apple has been fixed at Rs60 per kg for this season, double last year’s Rs30 per kg. However, the market price was Rs50 per kg last year.
Like Shahi, all the farmers in Jumla are busy picking the organic apples. The harvest season begins in late August and lasts till mid-October.
The District Agriculture Office said that apple production in Jumla dropped sharply by 25 percent to 3,000 tonnes this year due to a long drought last winter. However, farmers are being compensated by good market prices.
“As the harvest season has begun, traders have started touring apple orchards in the villages,” said Maya Devkota, a local farmer at Chandannath. “Last year, Jumla recorded a bumper apple harvest and growers had to carry their produce to the market,” Devkota said.
This year, traders themselves are coming to the villages, she said. “I sold all of my harvest in a short span of time.” Eight years ago, the District Development Committee had declared Jumla as an organic district. In 2009, Jumla’s apples secured the Nepal organic certificate. Since then, demand has been growing.
The district had even launched a ‘one village, one apple orchard’ campaign to boost production following the steep rise in demand. Currently, apples are grown in all village development committees in the district. “The campaign has encouraged the villagers,” said Bharat Prasad Kandel, a senior agriculture development officer. “Although production has dropped sharply this year, farmers are being offered good rates.”
Hordes of traders from Nepalgunj and Kathmandu have arrived in Jumla to buy apples. Cargo trucks from Surkhet and Nepalgunj are transporting the fruits to markets in the Tarai.
Usually, apple demand soars during the Dashain and Tihar festivals. The District Agriculture Office has been providing farmers a 75 percent subsidy on apple packaging cartons through cooperatives.
Balak Ram Adhikari, an agriculture information officer, said that around 217 tonnes of apples had been shipped from Jumla as of the last week of August.
“Farmers have been advised to pick the apples only after they have ripened. Ripe apples are juicy and they fetch good prices.”
Apple is grown on 3,100 hectares in Jumla. Five years ago, Jumla’s apples used to fetch Rs5 per kg, and now the farm gate price has reached Rs60 per kg.
“It’s due to organic certification,” said Chaitee Bista, an apple farmer in Patmara. Bista sold apples worth Rs150,000 from
her orchard, and she is happy nowadays as buyers come to her directly.
Likewise, Mun Bahadur Bista of Urthu produced 20 tonnes of apples this season. As his apples are organic certified, he has been attracting a large number of buyers. He earned Rs1.2 million this season.
Mun Bahadur planted 1,300 apple saplings and is now harvesting apples from 700 trees. He plans to install irrigation and other facilities in his orchard with the earnings he made this year, and has targeted doubling his income next year.