Farmers despair as middlemen eat into sweet orange earnings

Published On: November 26, 2017 03:45 AM NPT By: Anil Bhandari

SINDHULI, Nov 26: Although Sindhuli is considered as a hub for sweet orange (Junar) farming, the consumers are forced to pay excessively for the locally-produced fruits due to involvement of middlemen in the transaction. 

While consumers are paying a whopping price between Rs 15 to 20, the middlemen purchase it for one-third of that amount from the farmers, paying between Rs 5 to Rs 8. 
Consumers have been at the receiving end due to monopoly of the middlemen who buy entire orchards of sweet oranges during its key production season. The price of sweet orange hovered around Rs 40 to Rs 50 per kilogram during its peak production season in previous years. However, this has gone up to a range between Rs 100 and Rs 150 this year. 

"I have been purchasing sweet oranges from Sindhuli annually, however, the price seems to have towered this year," said Bishnu Banjade from Dhapasi, Kathmandu. 

Consumers have been lamenting over the high market price, stating that it has been hard for them to buy the fruit for their own consumption or for sending it as gift to their friends and family living elsewhere. Sweet orange is a popular seasonal gift item of the district.

Additionally, with the mid-hill highway connecting Sindhuli to other districts of the country, sweet orange has been in popular demand for those passing by. 

"Although we have been getting better price for our fruits this year, we have found that the vendors have been selling them at a price three times higher than what we get," said a farmer whose fruits were sold prior to ripening. 

Acknowledging the presence of middlemen in the market, Krishna Prasad Gautam, vice president of Sweet Orange Development Association of Sindhuli, said: "The association as of now has not been able to mitigate market monopoly of traders."

Although most of the villages of Sindhuli have a climate suitable for sweet orange cultivation, only few of them have adopted professional and modern methods of cultivating the fruit.

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