Banana farmers strike gold as demand spikes

- SHIVA PURI, CHITWAN

Jun 15, 2017-

Banana farmers across Nepal are grinning from ear to ear as rising demand for bananas have seen banana prices surge. This has also led to a rise in the number of banana farmers.

“More and more farmers are being attracted to the banana business due to its productive outcome,” said Bishnu Hari Pant, Chairman of Chitwan  Banana Production Committee, “Some other farming businesses have proved to be risky so the farmers prefer banana farming, which has reliable and profitable returns.”

This year, the prices have increased to Rs45-Rs54 for a dozen bananas from Rs36-Rs45 last year. Almost 47,000 metric tonnes of bananas were produced this year compared to 42,000 metric tonnes last year. Half of the district’s produce is exported to the Valley. Nearly 15 percent is consumed within the district itself and the remainder is transported to Butwal, Dang, Bhairahawa, Pokhara etc.

Banana farming is concentrated in the following cities: Bharatpur, Ratnanagar, Kalika, Khaireni, Jagatpur and Thimura. Chitwan is considered the major hub for banana production, with 630 farmers in the district. According to Pant, banana farms expanded by nearly 2,600 hectares of land last year.

 Working together with Federation of Nepal Chamber of Commerce and Industries (FNCCI) and Department of Agriculture, the government launched a programme called ‘One Village, One Produce’ to boost the farming of bananas in the district.

“If there was no land-plotting taking place in the district, then the farmlands for bananas would have been even more extensive,” said industrialist Laxman Subedi, “Without troubles such as strong winds, diseases, etc, there can be impressive earnings from banana farming.” According to him, bananas worth up to Rs1.05 billion can be sold in a year that are grown in his 55 Bigha land.

90 percent of the bananas grown here are of the Malbhog (Musa Paradisiaca) variety. Remaining 10 percent are William Hybrid bananas. More than Rs700 million has been invested in banana farming, according to the district production committee. Last year, the farmers had to bear immense loses due to strong winds and hailstones coupled with various virus and diseases which decimated banana output.

Published: 15-06-2017 08:32

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