Apple farming in Karnali paving way for prosperity

Published On: December 30, 2019 08:57 AM NPT By: DB BUDHA

JUMLA, Dec 30: Ram Singh Rawal of Sija village in Jumla sold seven tons of apples in Kathmandu this season. He went door to door asking people to buy apples for Rs 50 per kg. While the Kathmandu locals were more than happy to get the organic fruit for so little price (far less than the market price of apple in the capital), Rawal was amazed that his products were extremely liked by the people. 

"I learnt that there was high demand, and I have decided to expand this business," said an elated Rawal. 

Had there been a storage house, Rawal could have made more profit. He did not have to rush to Kathmandu with apples and rather could sell them later. However, whatever he is doing, has given him satisfaction.

Hansha Bahadur Basnet, his neighbor, also sold considerable amount of apples this season. Unlike Rawal, he did not reach Kathmandu or elsewhere. His apples were sold in Jumla for a little less price. "Sometimes, I sold apples for just Rs 10 or even Rs 5 per kg," he said. And yet, Basnet is upbeat about his experience. 

Both Basnet and Rawal are new apple farmers. They started farming apple as they saw many people around doing the same. 

According to Balakram Devkota, chief of the agriculture development office, Jumla, growing number of youths are taking interest in apple farming in the Karnali Province. Farmers of Jumla, Humla, Mugu, Kalikot and Dolpa are also into apple business 'despite challenges'. 

Last year, a total of 20,000 metric tons of apples from Karnali were sold, most of them from Jumla. This year, farmers from Jumla made a total of Rs 300 million by selling 6.5 metric tons of apple, according to Devkota. 

He claimed that the price of apple in Karnali is growing each year as dealers have started reaching out to the farmers and offering them competitive prices. As the agriculture office is working on promotion of apple farming, greater number of people has switched to apple farming.

"Apple farming is the backbone of the economy of Karnali. There is nothing else people are more engaged into and are earning from than apple farming," Devkota stated. "The climate and the soil of Karnali are suitable for apple farming," he added. 

Road network is yet not that impressive in the far west. Farmers lament the lack of easy transportation of their produce to bigger cities and towns. This gives a room for agents to make bigger profits. Apples from Karnali are growingly being sold in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Butwal, Nepalgunj and Surkhet, among other cities of the country either directly through farmers or through agents. 

According to Devkota, first-grade apples are taken away to be sold while lower grades are used to make chips, jam, liquor and juice. "Earlier, the only means of transportation was airway. Now, with the expansion of road network Karanali will soon export apples in a bigger scale," he said.

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