Bad roads hinder Jumla apples’ potentialApple production in Jumla has increased slightly to 3,400 tonnes this year compared to the 3,000 tonnes recorded last year. But bad road’s in Nepal’s apple heartland have severely affected the transportation of apples to markets across the country.
Apple production in Jumla has increased slightly to 3,400 tonnes this year compared to the 3,000 tonnes recorded last year. But bad road’s in Nepal’s apple heartland have severely affected the transportation of apples to markets across the country.
This has caused apple prices to drop and a rise in number of apples rotting. Last year, despite the drop in production, farmers were compensated with the rise in apple price. This year, the farm gate price of apple has dropped to Rs40 per kg, as compared to Rs60 per kg last year, due to the poor road condition to transport the fruits.
In Kathmandu, Jumla apples costs Rs200 per kg. The harvest season begins in late August and lasts till mid-October.
The District Agriculture Development Office said that as of Saturday, 1,100 tonnes of apples have been sold out. The office said that this year, apples have been supplied to Nepalgunj, Surkhet, Kathmandu, Pokhara, Rolpa, Rukum and Dhangadhi.
Bharat Prasad Kadel, a senior agriculture officer, said that nearly 1,200 traders have obtained permits for shipping apples from Jumla. He said that most of the apples were transported to Surkhet and Nepalgunj.
Laxman Neupane, a local of Hima Village Municipality, said that traders have not been able to transport apples produced in Sinja — one of the key producing areas — as Nagma-Gamgadhi road section of the Karnali highway has not come into full operation. “Farmers in Sinja have harvested their apples,” he said. “Farmers are confused whether to sell the fruit inside the district of send them outside,” he said, adding that most of the farmers are worried that their produce may rot as there is no proper storage system. Jumla has a potential to produce apple on 10,000 hectares.
However, only 3,000 hectares of land has been used so far to cultivate apples, said Balak Ram Devkota, information officer at District Agriculture Office. The agriculture office has been providing subsidy on apple saplings, irrigation and marketing.
The office has been providing farmers a 75 percent subsidy on apple packaging cartons through cooperatives. Nine 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. Hordes of traders from Nepalgunj and Kathmandu used to arrive in Jumla to buy apples last year, but due to the damage on Karnali Highway, farmers are facing difficulties in transporting their fruits.