Sweet orange growers take home Rs 500m

- Raj Kumar Karki, SINDHULI

Feb 26, 2015-

Farmers in Sindhuli district sold sweet oranges worth Rs 500 million this season, according to the statistics of the District Agriculture Office. The district produced 15,000 tonnes of the fruit. With demand on the rise, more and more farmers have started growing the fruit.

Sweet oranges have a distinctive sweet taste and are rich in Vitamin C and minerals. They are considered to be a special fruit of Nepal as they are rarely found in other countries.

Arjun Prasad Koirala, a local farmer of Basheswor VDC-6, is in an upbeat mood this season as he earned Rs 175,000 selling sweet oranges. In the past, Koirala’s income amounted to Rs 5,000 annually when he used to cultivate millet. Today, his income has swelled several-fold after he started commercial cultivation of sweet orange. “I sold 35,000 sweet oranges this year,” he said, adding the earnings had helped improve his living standard.  

Another farmer, Begh Bahadur Ale Magar, earned more than Rs 200,000 from growing the fruit. “I have repaid all my loans from this year’s income,” he said. Encouraged by the increase in his earnings, he plans to double the size of his sweet orange grove.

Nirmal Kumar Ramtel, chairman of the Sweet Orange Cooperatives Association, said that although hailstorm had harmed his orange trees, the output was not affected significantly. There are 34 cooperatives associated with sweet orange production and processing in the district. More than 3,000 farmers are involved in the cooperatives.

Sindhuli is the top sweet orange producing district in the country, followed by Ramechhap and Dhankuta. Sweet orange plants start to yield fruit from the fifth year and they stabilise around the eighth year. In the fifth year, each tree yields around 5 kg of the fruit. The output starts increasing and reaches around 60-70 kg from the eighth year. The trees keep producing fruits for 15-20 years. Sweet oranges normally take 240-280 days to mature. In Sindhuli, harvesting of the fruit starts in October and lasts till January.

According to a survey conducted by the Agribusiness Promotion and Marketing Development Directorate of the Ministry of Agricultural Development, sweet oranges are cultivated on 1,077 hectares in Sindhuli. Productive trees cover 565 hectares, and they yield 6,868 tonnes of the fruit. The survey shows that 25 percent of the output is consumed at the household level while the rest is sold.

Meanwhile, a One-Village-One-Product programme has been launched in four VDCs of Sindhuli district, namely Ratanchura, Baseshwor, Tinkanya and Jalakanya to promote cultivation and handle marketing.

Published: 27-02-2015 09:07

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