Juicy apples produced in Mustang are now available in the market. The process of picking, grading and sending the apples produced in all the five rural municipalities of the district, including Marpha of Gharpajhong Rural Municipality, to the market has begun.
After the apples ripened the farmers have started picking them and supplying them to the market.Traders from districts outside Mustang have gathered to the local orchards to buy apples while local traders are also busy buying apples produced by the farmers.
Traders from different parts of the country, including Dhading, Kathmandu, Pokhara and Chitwan have reached the apple orchards in Mustang to buy apples.
Shiwa Aryal, agriculture officer at the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project, Implementation Unit, Mustang, said that the farmers have started picking apples since Friday.
Deepak Lalchan, a farmer of Marpha, said that contractors, who have already taken apple orchards during fruiting, looked after the orchards and are picking apples themselves.
Aryal informed that the apples were picked only after mid-September this year as there were complaints about the quality as they were harvested before mid-September.
In the past, Mustang’s apples used to reach the market before Teej, but due to complaints that the taste of apples had deteriorated, arrangements have been made to send them to the market only after mid-September.
According to Padmanath Atreya, acting horticulture development officer at the Temperate Horticulture Development Center, Marpha, apples produced by the horticulture firm have been sold at Rs. 887,000 through tender this year.
Atreya informed that the quality of apples has improved this year as they were picked only after mid-September.
Generally, the horticulture farm in Marpha produces about 17,000 kgs of apples. Out of this, 1,300 kg is sold and remaining is used for brewing brandy or is dried. Dr. Sudhir Thapa, chief of the Prime Minister Agriculture Modernisation Project, Implementation Unit, Mustang, Myagdi, said that about 87 agriculture farms, farmers’ groups and agriculture cooperatives producing apples commercially have started supplying the fruits to the market as per the agreement to supply apples only from mid-September.
Chief District Officer of Mustang Srinath Poudel said that those who come to Mustang to pick and buy apples from outside the district will be allowed to enter if they have a PCR report issued within 72 hours or an antigen test and vaccine against the COVID-19.
Apples are sent to the market from the orchards at Rs. 100 per kg. Apples are cultivated commercially in more than 1,200 hectares of land in the district. About 6,000 tonnes of apples are produced in Mustang annually. The apples of Marpha and Tukuche in the district are considered delicious. In Mustang, Gharpajhong Rural Municipality, Tukuche of Thasang Rural Municipality, Kagbeni, Muktinath, Jhong, Chhusang and Chaile of Baragung Muktikshetra Rural Municipality are considered pocket areas for apple production.
Apple production has started in some wards of Lo-Ghekar Damodarkunda Rural Municipality and Lomanthang Rural Municipality of Upper Mustang recently. Mustang district has been producing Golden, Royal and Red Delicious, Richard and Fuji Delicious varieties of apples.