Until a few years ago, Jumla’s apple used to be dumped due to the lack of market. But now, the district’s organic apple is increasingly getting popular in Kathmandu and other parts of the country.
The district’s apple exports have notably increased in last two years. Jumla District Agriculture Development Office data show that the district produced around 3,500 tonnes of organic apple last fiscal year, while it exported 2,300 tonnes of the fruit to rest of Nepal. The figure in 2009-10 was at 1,100 tonnes.
With increased exports, apple farmers here are also getting better price for their products. They say traders are buying their apples at Rs 40 per kg. Cities like Kathmandu, Nepalgunj, Surkhet and Pokhara are the major markets of Jumla’s organic apple, where their prices go up to Rs 200 per kg. Farmers attribute this rise exports to the construction of Karnali highway. The unique selling point (USP) of Jumla’s apple is its organic identity. Jumla apple is the country’s first fruit to be certified (by Independent Company Organic Certification Nepal) under the government’s new guidelines. The district has officially banned the import of chemical fertilisers.
Jumla currently produces four varieties of apple—red delicious, golden delicious, royal delicious and golden royal. With demand increasing, farmers have also started apple nursery in the district. The Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperative’s (MoAC) High Value Agriculture Project (HVAP) played a crucial role in boosting apple production and helping farmers to form apple cooperatives.
Launched two years ago with the support from SNV Nepal, HVAP has distributed more than 435,000 apple saplings to farmers in the last two years. It plans to distribute around 200,000 apple saplings this year.
“The district has a huge potential for apple farming. We can increase production by at least 50 times. All 30 VDCs of the district have equally suitable climate for apple farming,” said Aaita Singh Gurung, chief of Jumla District Agriculture Development Office (DADO).
The project in partnership with DADO has launched ‘One House-One Apple Farm Policy’ to boost the apple production. It is encouraging every household in the district to have an apple farm consisting at least 25 trees. MoAC Senior Agriculture Officer Hari Prasad Gurung said Jumla’s organic apple will have a larger share in domestic market if everything goes as per the plan. Local farmer Man Bahadur Bista said he earns Rs 300,000 annually. “Earlier, we used to dump our products or feed it to livestock in the lack of market,” said Bista, who runs an apple farm consisting 200 trees.
The government has been providing subsidy on transportation of apple to farmers. Local farmers and businessmen now say the government must promote the Jumli apple by getting an international organic certification for it. “Farmers here no more need the government’s support for transportation. What we want is good price, market access and promotion,” said Sarpananda Hamal, former president of Jumla Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
As reported by Roshan Shedhai in The Kathmandu Post
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