Thursday, 13 August, 2020

Apple farmers in Bajura troubled, fear they may be forced to use tons of apples as fodder for cows if damaged road is not repaired in time

Apple farmers in Bajura troubled as road to market is damaged, July 26.

By Sher Bahadur Sarki, Bajura, July 26: The obstruction of road due to incessant rainfall at a time when the apples in the orchard are getting ripe has troubled farmers of Himali, Swamikartik Rural Municipalities and Budhinanda, which lie in the eastern side of  Bajura district, to transport the fruits for sale.

"Apples are getting ripe in the fields. On the other hand, Sanphe-Martadi road has been obstructed due to landslips and depression of road at different places along Martadi-Kolti road section because of the continuous rainfall. Now, I am worried about how to transport apples to markets," Satal BK, an apple farmer of Bahuni, Swamikartik Rural Municipality-1, shared his problems.

BK said that had the road of the Karnali corridor been operational, apples could be transported to Nepalgunj through Kalikot, Dailekh and Surkhet. But even that road is out of order due to incessant rainfall and subsequent landslips.

The obstruction of both the roads this year has left the farmers without any options to reach the market for selling apples.

"Last year, the Krishi Gyan Kendra (agriculture knowledge center) had provided subsidy for farmers on apple transportation from the field. It has made things very easy for the farmers here," BK said.

Bajura's organic apples would be taken to different cities of the country through vehicles for sale. But now, men are likely to be employed to carry the apples to the markets, adding cost and time to deliver apples, and this has made the farmers upset.

No vehicle has plied along the Kolti-Martadi road for over a month as the road has crumbled at several places due to heavy rainfall.

"The market is too far for us to carry the apples for sale. I had a hope to cover household expenses by selling apples. The obstruction of the road has made me hopeless now," said Bimala Rawat, an apple farmer of Himali Rural Municipality.

Rawat said, "Road obstruction due to snowing in winter and landslides in summer, we the locals have been facing troubles every year to do our business. This year, we are likely to have no option but to use apples as fodder for cows and buffalos."

Meen Prasad Jaisi, information officer at Bajura district Krishi Gyan Kendra, said programme of providing subsidy for farmers to transport apples from the field to the nearby market is intact even for this year. We provide transportation subsidy from the orchard to Martadi.

"Apples will be ripe enough after August 31. If road operates by that time, we will announce notice of transportation subsidy," said Jaisi.

Transportation subsidy from Jaganath to Pilichaur and Jukot to Pilichaur was Rs. 18 a kg, from Kolti to Martadi Rs. 18 a kg and from Pandusain to Martadi Rs. 13 a kg last year, according to Jaisi.

Apples have been grown in about 230 hectors of land in Bajura at present. "Nearly 1,050 metric tons of apples are produced a year in the district," said Jaisi.

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