Bumper harvest elates orange farmersFarmers in Ribdikot and Rainadevi Chahara sold oranges worth Rs50 million and Rs100 million, respectively, this season.
The income of Kamal Ghimire of Rainadevi Chhahara rural municipality nearly doubled as he earned Rs1.2 million selling oranges this season.
He hopes to increase the sales to Rs2 million next season.
Ghimire expanded his orange orchard in 2020 when Covid-19 hit the world, including Nepal.
He grows 1,200 orange plants—700 saplings—on 40 ropanis of land.
Orange is harvested in mid-November.
“I planted new saplings in 2020. Most of them have grown. I expect a better income after all the saplings bear fruit,” said Ghimire.
Like Ghimire, other farmers in Palpa are elated due to the bumper harvest. But many of them complain that the lack of road infrastructure and poor irrigation may dampen their prospects in the upcoming years.
“The lack of road transport and irrigation is a common problem of farmers,” said Ghimire. “We worry if drought occurs.”
Without proper irrigation, oranges in his orchard have been stunted.
Binod Karki, another orange farmer in Mujhung, Rainadevi Chahara-5, earned Rs1.2 million from a bumper orange harvest this year. He has been researching different varieties of citrus fruit that are climate-resistant and pest-free.
He also makes a handsome income selling orange saplings.
Karki hopes the local authority would support farmers as oranges have a huge potential as a cash crop.
Ben Bahadur Pun, a farmer from Palungmainadi, Ribdikot rural municipality, sold oranges worth over Rs600,000 this year.
Dan Bahadur Kunwar and Narayan Kunwar of Mainadi, too, are happy.
According to Ridikot rural municipality, farmers in Ribdikot and Rainadevi Chahara sold oranges worth Rs50 million and Rs100 million, respectively, this harvest season.
Ranjiv Kunwar, chief of the agriculture branch of Ridbikot rural municipality, said villagers see a greater prospect of orange farming due to its demand and pricing factors.
“It is now emerging as a key cash crop for the farmers. Locals who migrate return home to harvest oranges. They spent a month in the village to sell the produce,” said Kunwar. “Almost all farmers in Mainadi are engaged in orange farming.”
He said that each farmer earns between Rs500,000 and Rs1 million.
Mainadi, Kusumkhola, Deurali, Bhairabsthan, Mujhung of Rainadevi Chahara, Amalabash, Somadi, and Bhubanpokhari area of Ribdikot Rural Municipality are the key orange producing areas.
Nearly 1,500 farmers in Ribdikot rural municipality are engaged in orange farming in a total of 1,500 hectares.
Orange transactions were worth Rs25 million in Ribdikot rural municipality, said Ben Bahadur Pun, chairman of the Mainadi Agriculture Cooperatives.
Madan Aryal, chief administrative officer of Ribdikot rural municipality, said they have launched various schemes to promote orange farming. He said farmers are provided a subsidy of Rs2 per kg through cooperative groups.
“We also have been providing technical support to them,” said Aryal.
The orchard is spread over 8,000 hectares in Raindevi Chahara. Earnings increased to Rs100 million this year.
According to Rainadevi Chahara rural municipality, the commercial farm has thrived in the villages due to the growing demand for citrus fruit.
Palpa’s is a success story, said Nitya Nanad Pokharel, a farmer in Amalabash, Rainadevi Chahara-4. The highland of Palpa is well suited for orange cultivation, he added. “This year, bumper harvests have given farmers immense happiness.”
Daan Bahadur Kunwar, ward chairman of Ridbikot rural municipality, said traders from Butwal, Bhairahawa, Narayangadh, Pokhara and Nepalgunj nowadays come to the farmer's doors to book the fruit even before it is ripe for harvest.
In mid-October, traders from Tansen, Butwal and Bhairahawa arrive at the orchards to buy oranges. Due to the good quality and being organic, it’s easy to sell the oranges nowadays. They get good value as well.
“Traders observe the garden and pay accordingly,” said Jagdish Kunwar, a farmer.
The Prime Minister’s Agriculture Modernisation Project has been supporting farmers to boost orange production in the district. The project distributes saplings and provides technical help to the growers.
But farmers also suffer from pest infestation.
“An attack of a citrus greening disease destroyed the plants,” said Ram Bahadur Karki, farmer of Mujhung, Rainadevi Chahara. Monkeys are another nuisance for the farmers.