December 9: The production of citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons has increased but the farmers are struggling to find a market for the produce.
Farmers from various districts, including Rukum, Doti, Bajhang, and Bajura, have been complaining that the oranges produced by them are not getting any market. Looking at government data, it seems that the production of oranges is increasing every year. However, the market has not expanded in the same proportion.
According to Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development, in the last five years, the production of citrus fruits has been increasing along with the production area. In the fiscal year 2016/17, a total of 239,773 metric tons of citrus fruits were produced in 26,759 hectares of land. By the year 2020/21, the production area of the orange variety of fruits has increased by 5,429 hectares to 32,188 hectares, and the production has also increased by 71,415 metric tons to 311,188 metric tons.
According to the government data, even though the production has increased, complaints are registered every year that the oranges produced by Nepali farmers are not able to find a market. This year also, the farmers of Doti, Rukum and other districts have complained that the oranges are not getting sold in the market.
Nawal Singh Budha, an orange farmer of Doti, has grown oranges on five ropanis of land. He said that despite the increase in production this year compared to last year, oranges could not find good markets. You can read and hear the news that oranges are sold for Rs 100 per kg in Kathmandu. However, it is difficult to sell oranges here even at Rs 40/50 per kilo. Due to the lack of cold storage, it is not possible to stock them for a long time and sell them after the price rises," he told New Business Age.
The agreement between the Government of Nepal and China to export oranges to China and expand the market of citrus fruit has yet to be implemented.
An agreement to this effect was signed between the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development of Nepal and the Department of Agriculture of China about three years ago during the state visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping. However, the ministry said that this agreement has not been implemented yet
Spokesperson of the ministry Prakash Kumar Sanjel said that the Chinese government had set a condition that the oranges exported to China should be free from diseases and insects, so there was a problem in implementing the agreement in the beginning. Currently, the Chinese government has adopted a somewhat flexible policy that the plant from which oranges are harvested must be free from disease and insects. But the export of oranges to China is yet to materialize.