Lack of cold storage hurting farmers in EastOranges worth more than Rs 600 million is traded in the agriculture market of Dharan every year. But lack of cold storage facilities is hurting farmers and traders of the district.
Oranges worth more than Rs 600 million is traded in the agriculture market of Dharan every year. But lack of cold storage facilities is hurting farmers and traders of the district.
Apart from oranges, vegetables produced in eastern hills are traded in the market. But the government has not shown any interest in facilitating the market with cold storage facilities, according to Laxman Bhattarai, manager of the market.
“The oranges produced in the eastern region are of high quality. A proper cold storage facility coupled with proper grading, packaging and leveling, the local organges can displace the import of Indian oranges,” said Bhattarai. “The stored oranges may be exported to third country too.” Generally, the Nepali market gets flooded with Indian oranges after February.
The oranges worth Rs 100 million or around 15 percent of the total trade volume in the agriculture market are imported from India, according to Bhattarai. “If we are able to store the oranges, the import will be substituted and our farmer will get more value for their produce,” he added. “The concerned authorities have ignored repeated requests from the market’s management committee to build a cold storage facility despite repeated requests.” The cold storage is estimated to cost between Rs 100 and Rs 120 million. The Ministry of Agricultural Development has asked the committee to contribute 60 of the cost if it wants to build the facility. “As the market doesn’t have resources to produce such a large amount of money, we couldn’t agree with the ministry’s decision,” said Bhattarai. Tika Ram Shrestha, an orange trader demanded that the government undertake all the costs to build the cold storage. “A cold storage will benefit a large number of farmers. As we lack a cold storage, we have to send all our produce to the market at once. That decreases the price,” he said.
In the absence of cold storage, some of the farmers delay harvesting their oranges in order to sell them later at higher prices. Such practice, according to experts, decreases the productivity.
Farmers from Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Terhathum, Khotang and Sankhuasaba sell their produce in the market. It has been 45 days since the trading has begun in this season and around 2,500 tons of oranges worth Rs 230 million has been already traded. Around 6,500 tonnes of organges are expected to be traded in the market by February.