September 17, 2019 08:09 AM NPT
By: GANESH BISHU
Apples packed in cartons are kept for sale at a fruits and vegetables market in Birendranagar. Ganesh Bisu/Republica
Apples bought from Jumle farmers at Rs 25 per kilogram being sold in Birendranagar at Rs 100 per kilogram
BIRENDRANAGAR, Sept 16: The price of apples in Birendranagar is three-four times higher than in Jumla where the fruits are sourced from.
Apples are available in Jumla at around Rs 25 per kg. But the price sees huge increment by the time the fruit reaches retail market, thanks to involvement of middlemen.
Jyoti Raut, a trader who has three apple orchards in Jumla, buys apples grown in her own gardens at Rs 55-75 per kg from middlemen. "As there are different middlemen involved, we cannot buy from farmers directly. This causes price to soar manifolds," she added.
Pavitra Rijal, another fruits vendor at Birendranagar, said everyone has to buy from middlemen. "We cannot buy apples from farmers. Apples travel through three to four middlemen before they reach consumer market," Rijal added. "Traders buy apples from farmers. They then sell it to wholesalers at fruits and vegetables market. Vendors like us have to buy from wholesalers."
Because of this network of middlemen, consumers have to pay Rs 100 per kg of apples sold by farmers at only Rs 25 per kg. According to traders, traders pay farmers Rs 25 per kg and sell it to wholesalers of fruits and vegetables at Rs 40-50 per kg. These wholesalers sell apples to retailers at Rs 55 to Rs 70 per kg. Retailers then sell the fruit to consumers at around Rs 100 per kg.
"We make profit of only Rs 5 per kg after investing in transportation, grading of apples and packing in cartons," Prakash Timalsina, a wholesaler at fruits and vegetables market, told Republica. "We cannot fix price on our own as prices are fluctuating and affected by different factors," he said, adding: "Nepali apples can compete with cheaper Chinese or Indian imports only if the government build cold storage and provides farmers with subsidy in transportation."
According to Timalsina, some 150 quintals of apples are sold in Birendranagar every day.
Farmers say they have no option but to offer prices offered by middlemen as they cannot store fruits for long due to lack of cold storage. "As we cannot take apples to the market on our own, we have to depend on middlemen," a farmer told Republica.
Consumers complain that they are not getting fresh fruits even after paying Rs 100 per kg. "Fruits supplied directly by farmers would taste better," Fanindra KC, a consumer, told Republica. "The government should put in place a mechanism that discourages middlemen in farming sector."