Incessant hail and rain destroyed apple blossoms back in May, resulting in a drastic reduction in apple production in the Karnali province this year. Apple prices, as a result, have gone up. Farmers in the area complain about scant production and lost income. Most of the produce from remote areas has to be airlifted to nearby markets, which makes transfer of low volumes unfeasible.
In the Karnali region, most apples are grown in Jumla, which produced 12,000 metric tons last year. But this year, only 5,000 metric tons have been produced. Chief of the Agriculture Development Office, Jumla, Bala Karam Devkota says apple prices have gone up after the decline in production. In Jumla, per/kg prices have been fixed at Rs 160 for A grade, Rs 155 for B grade and Rs 150 for C grade apples. According to Devkota, apple prices may further increase due to declining supply.
Similarly, 1,450 metric tons of apples were produced in Humla last year. This year, this volume has been halved. In Mugu—which yielded 1,500 metric tons of apples last year—production has declined by 70 percent. Chief of the District Agriculture Development Office, Mugu, Panchlal Budha informs that apples will not be exported to other districts this year due to low production. Buddhi Budathoki, assistant technical officer at the same office, adds that only 400 metric tons of apples were produced in Dolpa this year, compared to 3,296 metric tons last year.
Organic apples are produced in hugs quantities in Jumla, Dolpa, Mugu, Kalikot and Humla of Karnali province. But this year, apple production has dropped by about 70 percent. Bala Karam Devkota, chief of the Agriculture Development Office, Jumla, attributes this to the hail and rain in May that destroyed apple blossoms. “This year has been very bad for apple farmers,” says Devkota.
Devkota says commercial farmers have been hit hard. Most farmers in Jumla had only just started growing apples on a commercial scale. Apples produced in Karnali are sold in cities including Surkhet, Nepalgunj, Pokhara and Kathmandu.
The concerned District Agriculture Development Offices have been providing free packaging materials to farmers for apple export. Apples of varieties like Red Delicious, Golden and Chocolate are cultivated in the Karnali region.