Nepali orange traders unable to profit much from the volumes reaching Indian marketNepali oranges reach India, illegally, due to the fruit not being listed on India’s import list.
Nepal’s orange farmers are losing out on making optimum profits for their produce due to the deviousness of Indian traders who sell Nepali oranges in India, illegally. The fruit is not on India’s import list of items and traders, after buying the Nepali fruit here sell it back home at a huge profit, allege local farmers and traders.
Laxman Bhattarai, manager at the Agriculture Commodity Market, Dharan said the farmers sell oranges at wholesale prices to the traders of Dharan. The traders then sell it to other traders, according to the day’s prevailing price.
“But, there is a huge difference in prices when the oranges reach the Indian market,” said Bhattarai. “The Indian traders who come to buy oranges in Dharan say they supply them in local markets like Jhapa, Morang, Saptari, Siraha and Janakpur. But that is not true.”
In the Indian market, there is a huge demand for Nepali organic oranges produced in the eastern hilly areas due to their better flavour and taste, but much of the fruit produced enters India, illegally, and the Nepali farmers and traders are unable to derive any real benefit for producing the fruit.
The oranges produced in the eastern hilly areas arrive in the Agriculture Commodity Market, Dharan and the Indian traders from towns bordering Kakarvitta, Jhapa and southern border of Jogbani buy them, but at a much lower prices.
Around 30-35 percent of the total orange production, equal to about 3,000 tonnes of oranges produced in the eastern hills of Nepal reaches the Indian consumers. The oranges produced in India also arrive in the market around the same time.
The Indian consumers prefer Nepali oranges and this is why the Indian middlemen take Nepali oranges to their own market, employing different tricks, the traders alleged.
The season for Nepali oranges starts in mid-November and lasts up to mid-March. Nepali oranges are more expensive compared to Indian oranges, due to a strong local demand.
Kaji Giri, former president of the commodity market said the “Indian oranges have a thicker peel compared to the Nepali oranges.”
“If the governments of Nepal and India get our oranges listed on India’s import list, the Nepali farmers would get a better value for their products,” Giri added.
According to Bhattarai, the production of oranges in the eastern hills is expected to increase by around 40 percent this year. Around 2,400 tonnes of oranges worth Rs240 million were traded until mid-February, in the last fiscal year, he added.
“As the production will go up this fiscal year, the value and the volume of the transactions will increase this year,” said a trader. The market is expecting to make transactions worth Rs1 billion from about 9,500 tonnes of orange production this season, he added.
Bhattarai said 2,920 tonnes of oranges worth Rs300 million were traded until January 21, selling at Rs115 per kg in the wholesale market. “The fruit’s prices have increased this fiscal year by 25 percent since it was trading at Rs85 per kg during same time last year. The prices have increased due to the increased local consumption.”
In the last fiscal year, 7,519 tonnes of oranges worth Rs700 million were traded on the market. The average price was Rs90 per kg at the time.
With the mid-season on, daily, 25-30 tonnes of oranges are being traded in Dharan, Bhattarai said. The farmers and traders are bringing oranges from Budhuk, Bodhe, Khoku of Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Sankhuwasabha, Khotang, Tehrathum, Panchthar and Taplejung, in Dharan.
“If the oranges from the eastern hills are marketed properly, and if they are branded and packaged well, our oranges could sell for Rs5 billion annually,” claimed Bhattarai.