Prices of Mustang apples double on high demandPrices of Mustang apples have more than doubled in the local market during this festive season as demand for the famed fruit from the trans-Himalayan district of Mustang has grown sharply.
Prices of Mustang apples have more than doubled in the local market during this festive season as demand for the famed fruit from the trans-Himalayan district of Mustang has grown sharply.
Traders said that Mustang apples cost Rs180 per kg this year. They added that prices had increased due to high transportation costs but consumers have accused them of hiking prices arbitrarily.
Although the farm gate price of apple is Rs60-70 per kg, traders in Baglung said that steep freight costs had driven up prices. Mustang, which adjoins the Chinese border, is one of the key apple producing districts in the country.
Dhurba Prasad Sharma, president of the District Fruits Traders Association, said that lack of motor transportation had forced traders to ship apples to Baglung by mule caravan.
Much of the commerce in the mountains is still transported by pack animal. Sharma said that due to the occurrence of the Dashain festival, traders did not even wait for the apples to ripen.
Demand for apples grew significantly as there were no other fruits available in the market because the festival, which is held according to the lunar calendar, began earlier in the season.
Traders said that apples imported from China also cost Rs180 per kg. However, people prefer Mustang apples due to their texture, juiciness and crunchiness.
Consumers have been complaining about the sharp rise in the price of apples. Deputy Chief District Officer Dhurba Giri said that they had been monitoring the market to discourage unnatural hikes in market prices.
Trader Sharma said that cargo trucks had been unable to transport apples from Mustang due to poor road conditions.
“It is difficult to bring the apples. Besides, transportation costs are much higher as it takes two-three days to ship goods to Baglung.”
Consumer rights activists said that the local administration had launched a monitoring drive in the market, but failed to control prices.
As we were focused more on controlling black marketing and adulteration, the administration failed to keep tabs on apple prices.
Mustang produced 4,300 tonnes of apples last year. This year, output is expected to reach 5,100 tonnes. About 13 different types of apples like Golden Delicious, Royal Delicious and Red Delicious are cultivated in Mustang.
According to the Agricultural Development Office, apple orchards are spread over 1,115 hectares in Mustang, but farmers have been using only 415 hectares to grow apples.