Apple harvest expected to start early in Manang

- AASH GURUNG, MANANG

Aug 31, 2018-

Apple farmers in Manang are preparing for the picking season which is expected to start in mid-September. This year’s apple harvest is expected to have an early start because of a wet spring, according to growers. Apple growers said that hybrid apple, which is early-season apple, would be ready for picking within two weeks.

“The fruit has started to ripen. Farmers will be busy in their orchards from next week,” said Nurbu Lama, an apple farmer in Chame, Manang. The 75-year-old farmer has been growing apples for the last three decades. His farm produces three types of apples—royal, golden and red delicious. These three varieties are produced by farmers who have been cultivating the fruit using traditional methods.

Lately, many farmers have been producing hybrid apples. “I have planted the hybrid variety because the tree produces fruit even when it is small. Besides, the yield is higher,” said Narendra Ghale, another farmer in Chame Rural Municipality. Ghale’s orchard is spread over 12 ropanis. Agro Manang has the largest orchard in the district occupying 450 ropanis in Neshyang Rural Municipality. It contains 67,000 apple trees. According to Samraj Gurung, chairman of Agro Manang, they brought apple saplings from Italy and Serbia and have been involved in commercial production for the last four years.

“The plants started bearing fruit within six months of planting,” he said. Last year, the orchard produced 300 tonnes of apples. “We expect to produce 500 tonnes of apples this year,” he said. His farm grows three types of apples—gala, golden and fuji.

According to the District Agriculture Development Office, apple farms in Manang have been expanding gradually. In the last fiscal year 2017-18, Manang produced 910 tonnes of apples on 89 hectares of land. In 2016-17, farmers grew 825 tonnes of apples on 87 hectares. Agro Manang accounts for half of the total output in the district.

Ram Kumar Sah, agriculture extension officer, said that apple production in Manang has been rising due to the adoption of hybrid varieties. “Production statistics show that the yield of old varieties of apple has been dropping,” he said. As farmers have been making a good income by growing apples, commercial farming has been spreading in the district. The agro technician said that timely use of fertiliser, irrigation and weed management has been providing higher yield.

Gurung said that they planned to set up an apple juice and apple chips plant this year. In the past, 70 percent of the apples produced used to be consumed in the district due to lack of transportation. Currently, most of the apples are shipped to different cities in Nepal.

Published: 31-08-2018 08:07

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