Sliced apples left to dry under the sun in Mustang district. Photo: Sushil Babu Thakali/ Republica
MUSTANG, Oct 15: Youths of Mustang are busy preparing dried apple slices. As dried apples fetch good price during off season, many farmers prefer to slice apples and dry them for future use rather than sell them at lower price during flush season.
Most of the farmers of Thasang, Gharjhong and Barha Gaun Muktichhetra Rural Municipality of are involved in production and trade of sliced dried apple. Talking to Republica Balkrishna Adhikari, senior horticulture officer, said that dried apple has become one of the popular souvenirs that tourists visiting the districts take to their home. According to local farmers, dried slices of Golden Delicious apples taste better. Dried apple slices retail for a minimum of Rs 1,000 per kg.
“Dried apple is easier to store and has longer lifetime,” Adhikari said, adding, “Both domestic and foreign tourists prefer to buy dried apples produced in the district.”
Ram Karki, who migrated to Mustang 20 years ago looking for a job, is now busy preparing dried apples. He is involved in the traded for the past seven years. “Dried apple gives us good profit as it can be sold during off season when supply of apple is near to nil,” Karki said. “Our business suffers only if there is problem in apple production due to bad weather.”
Karki has purchased Rs 250,000 worth of Golden Delicious apples to prepare dried apple slices. “As Golden Delicious apple has a thin layer, it drier faster and is also tastier than other apples,” he added.
Karki is giving employment to seven workers. He produces up to 25 kg of dried apple every day. He makes profit of around Rs 200,000 per season.
“We can save time and my money by bringing modern technology to produce dried apple slices. But I have not been able to bring modern machinery due to lack of funds,” he said, adding that most of the people in the district use traditional method to produce dried apple slices.
Meanwhile, traders are reaching to different farms of the district has apple harvesting season has begun. There is high demand for apple varieties like Golden Delicious, Rich Red Delicious and Royal Delicious. However, traders prefer the latter to varieties as Golden Delicious apples are difficult to transport.
“That is why locals started producing dried apples,” added Karki.
Similarly, siblings Som Chhetri and Sarad Chhetri from Ghapjhong-1 earn Rs 30,000 to Rs 40,000 per month from windfall apples alone. They prepare dried slices as well as juice and the popular Marpha brandy. Likewise, Lal Bahadur Pun from Thasang is earning around Rs 100,000 per season from dried apples.
“Customers themselves come to our place to buy dried apples,” Pun said, adding: “The demand is increasing with every passing year.”