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Deciduous Fruit in Nepal
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Lok Nath Devkota*

* Chief, Fruit Development Division, Department of Agriculture, Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal
1. INTRODUCTION

The kingdom of Nepal is a small and totally land locked mountainous country in South Asia. It is situated between 26°22’ and 30°27’ north latitude and 80°4’ and 88°12’ east longitude. It is surrounded by India to the East, South and West and by the Tibetan region of China to the North. The shape of the country is somewhat rectangular measuring 880 km from East to West and 130 to 240 km in width. The total geographical area of the country is 147,181 square km. The population of the kingdom was 21.4 million in 1996/97 with an annual growth rate of 2.1 percent. Per capita GDP was very low in 1996/97 (US$200). The total cultivable area is 3.96 million hectares of which 2.97 million ha are under cultivation. The irrigated area is only 26% of the total cultivated land; the rest depends largely on monsoon rain, 80% of which is received during June to September.

Nepal is a predominantly agricultural country. Agriculture is the lead sector for the national economy and accounts for about 42% of the GDP. About 81.1% of the population or about 3.3 million families are engaged in agriculture. Land holding per family of 5-6 members is 6.5 ha in the hills and 1.8 ha in the terai.

The Nepalese hill economy is characterized by typical subsistence agriculture based on cereal crops, and is practiced on terraces of often very steep slopes which are subjected to a great loss of top soil by erosion during heavy rain. Hilly soil is generally acidic and with poor nutrient content, especially nitrogen.

Administratively, the country is divided into 75 districts and five development regions, namely, Eastern (16 districts), Central (19 districts), Western (16 districts), Mid-Western (15 districts) and Far-Western (9 districts).

Agro-ecological Classification and its Significance to Horticulture

The topography of Nepal is extremely variable ranging from 60-300 m above sea level (m a.s.l) in the southern plains to 8848 m.a.s.l. in the north, which is the highest point on earth (Mt. Everest). Big variation in altitude occurs within short distances due to which it enjoys all types of climates. Physiographically, the whole country can be divided into five zones (Table 1).

Table 1. Characteristics of Physiographic Regions of Nepal

Features

Terai

Siwaliks

Middle Mountains

High Mountains

High Himal

Land Area (Million ha)

3.1 (44%)

2 (12.7%)

4.4 (29.5%)

2 (19.7%)

2.4 (23.7%)

Geology

Quaternary alluvium

Tertiary sandstone, siltstone, shale & conglomerates

Phyllite, quartzite limestone and islands of granites

Gneiss, quartzite & mica shists

Gneiss, schist, limestone and Tethys sediments

Elevation

100-300 m

200 - 1500 m

800 - 2400 m.
Relief 1500 m with isolated peaks to 2700 m

1000 - 4000 m
High relief 3000 m from valley floor to ridges

2000 to 5000 m +

Climate

Tropical

Tropical, subtropical

Subtropical, warm temperate (but tropical in lower river valleys; cool temperate on high ridges)

Warm to cool temperate, alpine

Alpine to arctic (snow 6 - 12 months)

Moisture Regime

Subhumid in FW+MWDR; humid in W+C and FDR

Subhumid in most of the area; humid in N-aspect of W+C=EDR and Dun Valleys

Humid; perhumid above 2000 m

Subhumid to perhumid

Semi arid behind Himal

Rainfall Intensity

High

High

Medium

Low

Low

Horticultural crops

Mango, lychee pineapple, jack-fruit, potato, tomato

Mango, papaya, banana, potato

Mango, papaya, banana, orange, lime, lemon, peach plum, nectarine, persimmon, Asian pear, potato, cauliflower

Chestnut, walnut, apple, peach, plum, apricot, cherry, almonds, potato




Note:




EDR

=

Eastern Development Region


CDR

=

Central Development Region


WDR

=

Western Development Region


MWDR

=

Mid Western Development Region


FWDR

=

Far Western Development Region


Commercial fruit growing, especially the deciduous type is not traditional in Nepal. Therefore, it is limited largely to homestead gardens and fruits are used mainly for domestic consumption. The local peach, pear, plum and walnut are grown in scattered locations, they are of inferior quality and have very little commercial value. This however, indicates the potential for growing temperate fruits in Nepal. For the first time in Nepal a Department of Agriculture was established in 1925. After this, a number of different fruit species, mostly temperate fruits were introduced to Balaju and Godavari orchards in Kathmandu. Only after 1950 several promotional activities on fruit development were undertaken in Nepal. For the first time a Horticulture Development Section was established under the Department of Agriculture in 1955. Several improved cultivars of Asian pear, peach, plum, persimmon, cherry and apple were introduced to Singh Durbar and Kakani farms and cultivar performance studies and propagation activities were started with bilateral assistance from USAID until 1963. From this time the Government of Nepal placed special emphasis on fruit development in the hills. The period from 1960 to 1973 was a very crucial period because this is the time when six temperate horticultural stations were established at different locations of the country with support from the Indian Cooperation Mission (ICM). Many new cultivars of deciduous fruits were introduced into these stations from India. In these stations a number of activities were started including cultivar performance studies, planting material production and distribution, training of farmers etc. As a result, the area under deciduous fruits increased dramatically. A number of new temperate fruits and additional new cultivars were introduced and key horticultural stations were strengthened during 1977 to 1980 under the Hill Agriculture Development Project assisted by FAO.

Until the early seventies, the requirements of planting material of these fruits were met mostly by imports from India but after the mid-seventies several private nurseries were established in the major growing areas and self-sufficiency was almost achieved.

No significant research work on fruits in general, and deciduous fruits in particular, was carried out in Nepal in the past. Only preliminary studies on cultivar evaluation, propagation and insect pest management were undertaken.

2. PRESENT SITUATION OF DECIDUOUS FRUIT PRODUCTION

At present, deciduous fruits are considered as the most important fruit crops of Nepal. These fruits are grown successfully in mid and high mountainous areas from the Eastern to the far Western zone of the country. Sub-humid and dry temperate areas in the inter Himalaya region where the elevation ranges from 1800-2800 m.a.s.l. are considered to be most suitable for particularly high quality apple production. Such rainshadow or low rainfall areas are located in the Western and mid Western mountainous regions. On the other hand, the humid temperate regions where the rainfall is high and are fairly wet throughout the growing period are suitable for the cultivation of other deciduous fruits. Some low chilling (<1000 hrs) apple cultivars are being grown at low altitudes, as low as 1200 m.a.s.l. Tables 2, 3 and 4 show the total area, production and productivity of fruits in Nepal as well as potential districts for commercial production.

Table 2. Total Area, Production and Productivity of Fruits in Nepal (1996/97 - End of the Ninth Five Year Plan)

Fruit

Total Area
(ha)

Productive
Area (ha)

Total Production
(MT)

Yield
MT/ha

Deciduous
(Temperate)

13261.00

9402

81640

8.68

Citrus

15923.59

9330

92994

9.97

Evergreen
(Tropical)

33734.28

23553

253591

10.77

Total

62918.97

42285

428225

10.13

Source: Agriculture Statistics (MOU), 1998.
If we look at the comparative figures of the last ten years, we will see that the area under fruit crops has increased almost by 50 percent, but due to the scattered distribution it has little impact on commercial scale production and this is especially true in the case of deciduous fruits.

Table 3. Area, Production and Productivity of Deciduous Fruit in Nepal (1997)

Fruit

Total Area
(ha)

Productive
Area (ha)

Production
(Mt/ha)

Yield
Mt/ha

Apple

4652

3006

28595

9.51

Pear

3049

2381

27339

11.48

Peach

2143

1765

12819

7.26

Plum

1441

1179

8294

7.03

Apricot

97

63

431

6.84

Persimmon

71

45

328

7.29

Total

11392

8439

77806


Table 4. Potential Districts for Commercial Production

Fruits

Major Districts

Apple and Apricot

Mustang, Jumla, Humla, Kalikot, Dolpa, Rukum, Rolpa, Bajhang, Bajura, Baitadi, and Darchula

Pear, Peach, Plum, Persimmon

Sankhuwasabha, Dhankuta, Sindhupalcowk, Rasuwa, Kavre, Nuwakot, Dhadding, Palpa, Baglung, Baitadi, Doti, Dharchula, Bajhang, Rolpa, Parbat, Gorkha, Makawanpur, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Kathmandu, Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Bhojpur, Terathum and Illam


2.1 Important Cultivars, Rootstocks and Areas of Production

As mentioned earlier, several cultivars of different kinds of deciduous fruit species were introduced into Nepal at different times and for several programs. These cultivars were imported mainly from India, the United Kingdom, Italy, Israel, Japan and USA. They were planted in different horticultural stations and suitable cultivars were propagated and distributed to the farmers. The important cultivars of different deciduous fruits available in Nepal are given below.

2.1.1 Apple

Both high chilling and low chilling cultivars of apple are cultivated in Nepal. The principal high chilling cultivars are Red, Royal and Golden Delicious, Mc Intosh, Jonathan, Rome Beauty, Granny Smith, Richared, Golden Spur, etc. Among all these cultivars the Delicious group covers a major area as their fruit quality is excellent. The mid chilling cultivars are Katza, Red June, Cox Orange Pippin, Crispin and Summer Pippin. The low chilling cultivars are Anna, Vered, Tropical Beauty, Winter Banana etc.

Rootstocks: Crab apple (M. baccata) seeds are used extensively for raising rootstocks for apple in Nepal. Edy Mayal which is commonly found in the wild is also being used on a limited scale as a rootstock. Clonal rootstocks such as M9, M26, M27 of the Malling series and MM101, MM106, MM111 of Malling Merton series have been introduced to a few horticultural stations and are used for propagation on a very limited scale.

Production Areas: High and mid chilling cultivars are mostly grown in an altitude range of 1800 - 2800 m.a.s.l, where chilling is more than 1000 hours; low chilling types are cultivated at elevations as low as 1200 m.a.s.l. and where chilling is 600-1000 hours. As far as elevation is concerned, apple can be grown throughout mid and high mountain areas from Eastern to the far Western region; however, due to high humidity and heavy rainfall during the growing period the most suitable areas for quality apple production are confined to the mid and far Western region where dry to semi humid conditions exist (Table 4).

2.1.2 Pear

There are two kinds of pears grown in Nepal. The oriental pear or sand pear locally known as Naspati or Pharping Naspati (Pyrus pyrifolia) is very popular as it needs low chilling hours (<1000); it is very well adapted to the warmer temperate region of Nepal.

Japanese cultivars including Shinsui, Shinko, Kosui, Hosui, Chojuro and Okusankichi were introduced into Nepal about 10 years ago under a Japanese Aid Horticulture project. These cultivars are successful under warm temperate conditions and fruit quality is excellent. These cultivars, however, require very careful management.

The European pears (P. communis) were introduced into Nepal many years ago. The better adapted popular cultivars of European pear are Bartlett, Quince, Anjou and Conference, which are also usually grown in cool temperate regions.

Rootstocks: A wild variety locally known as Mayal (P. pashia) is extensively used as a rootstock. Seedlings are raised from seed and grafting is done on them.

Production Areas: The pear is a very important deciduous fruit crop in Nepal. It is cultivated in both mid and high mountain areas of the whole country.

2.1.3 Peach

So far, a total of 44 improved cultivars of peach have been introduced into Nepal from many countries. High chill cultivars are Peregrine, Triumph, Elberta, Baby gold, Suncrest, Rhodes, Red Haven, Florida Red, etc. Low chill cultivars include Orion, Spring time, French Early, Cardinal, Armgold, Florida, Kuratake Wase, Texas, Spring time, Early Red etc. These are all early ripening cultivars, while J.H. Hale and Late Elberta are popular late peach cultivars in Nepal.

Rootstocks: A wild cultivar of peach which is widely found in Nepal is extensively used as a rootstock for cultivated peach, nectarine and almond.

Production Areas: In Nepal, peach is a very common stone fruit extensively grown throughout the mid elevations between 1000-2800 m a.s.l. High chill cultivars are performing well in the high mountain areas, whereas low and mid chill cultivars perform very well in mid mountain areas.

2.1.4 Plum

Two types of plum are commonly grown in Nepal. European cultivars grown are Green Gaga, Early Transparent Gage, Stanley, Ruth Gestetner etc. Japanese cultivars are Santa Rosa, Methley, Satsuma, Formosa, Mariposa, Burbank, Kelsey, Oishi Wase and Shiro.

Rootstocks: A wild plum or peach are commonly used as rootstocks for all plums. Clonal rootstocks of Myrobolan are also used on a very limited scale.

Production Areas: Plums are being successfully grown in areas where peaches are grown except those areas where there is early spring frost.

2.1.5 Apricot

About 13 cultivars of apricot were introduced into Nepal at different times but unfortunately only a few of them have been successful under Nepalese conditions. These cultivars included Blenheim, Titon, Bulida, Rcale Dimola, Prete, Canino, Kaisa, Charmagz, Shakarpara etc. Shakarpara is the most successful cultivar in Nepal.

Rootstocks: Apricot and wild peach are used as rootstocks for apricot.

2.1.6 Nectarine

Popular nectarine cultivars are Independent, Panamint, Arm King, Ruby Gold, Fantasy, Nectaret-2 and Neyorkert.

2.1.7 Persimmon

Popular cultivars are Euyu, Ziro, Zenjimoru, Hiratanonashi, Hachiya and some local selections.

Rootstocks: Local cultivars.

Production Areas: Warm temperate areas throughout the country.

2.1.8 Cherry

Cultivars grown are Napoleon, Satomishiki, Tokasago, Victoria and Bigara. However, none of these cultivars have shown good performance in Nepal.

3. PRODUCTION OF PLANTING MATERIAL

Nepal was importing deciduous fruit plants from India until the mid 80’s. Due to the encouragement from the Government several private nurseries have been established in different regions, and now the country is self-sufficient in the production of planting material of these crops. Due to the expansion of the area under these crops, the demand for planting material is increasing rapidly (Table 5).

Table 5. Deciduous Fruit Planting Material Production (1997)
(Number of Plants)

Fruit Crop

Government
Nurseries

Private
Nurseries

Total

Apple

66130

34760

100890

Pear

25978

24040

50018

Peach

23048

11010

34058

Plum

21828

6020

27848

Walnut

24944

11075

36019

Persimmon

3220

600

3820

Apricot

4410

4360

8770

Chestnut

1860

0

1860

Almond

900

0

900

Grape

2200

0

2200

Pecan

1280

0

1280

Total

175798

91865

267663


Government farms continue producing fruit plants and selling them at a minimum price, but a larger volume of planting material is required. It is not possible to meet the growing demand through these nurseries. In the last few years, attempts have been made by private entrepreneurs to establish fruit nurseries. As a result, nearly 100 nurseries have so far been established by the private sector. The method and time of propagation are shown in Table 6.

Table 6. Method and Time of Propagation

Fruit Crop

Propagation Method

Time

Apple

Bench grafting
(Whip and Tongue)

January/February

Pear

Bench grafting (Whip and Tongue)
Budding (T or Chip)

January/February
May/June

Peach, Plum, Apricot, Cherry

Tongue or cleft grafting (in situ)
Shield Budding

May to September
April to August

Persimmon

Chip Budding

January/February


4. ESTABLISHMENT OF ORCHARDS

In Nepal, more than 80% of cultivated land in high and mid mountain regions is on sloping mountainous terrain. In this hilly terrain the contour system of planting is followed. All trees are planted on the contour. The distance between the rows depends on the slope, being closer on steeper slopes and wider spaced otherwise.

On very steep land, terraces are made and the slope of the terrace is kept inwards in order to prevent soil erosion. In such terrain, hexagonal or rectangular system of planting is practiced.

Pits of approximately 1 x 1 x 1 m size are dug during the period of September-October and filled with a mixture of compost and soil. Planting of deciduous fruit trees is commonly done through December to March depending upon the altitudes. Planting distance for all these fruit trees is 6 X 6 m (300 plants per hectare) for most parts of Nepal.

5. ORCHARD MANAGEMENT

Proper training of young plants and pruning of older trees are not strictly followed by farmers in many areas of Nepal. Farmers’ negligence of these very important operations has created a big problem in quality production. However, the most common system of training of temperate fruits practiced in the country is the modified leader system followed by the open center system. Pruning is generally done during December to January.

Soil fertility in the mid mountain regions is extremely low, and crops are mainly dependent upon farm-yard manures and compost, and fruit crops hardly receive fertilizers. However, the recommendation of manures and fertilizers for these crops is presented in Table 7.

Table 7. Fertilizer Recommendations for Deciduous Fruits (per tree)

Items

Tree age in Years

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

Compost (kg)

20

25

30

35

40

45

50

55

60

65

Nitrogen (g)

-

100

150

200

250

300

350

400

450

500

Phosphorus (g)

-

50

75

100

125

150

175

200

225

250

Potassium (g)

-

20

30

40

50

60

70

80

90

100


The three-fourth dose of nitrogen and full dose of compost, phosphorous and potash are applied prior to the dormancy break. The remaining one fourth of N is given soon after the fruit harvest. In Nepal, fruit cultivation is done on marginal uplands where irrigation facilities rarely exist; therefore, orchards are entirely dependent on monsoon rain which occurs mainly during May to August.

Mulching around the trees has been highly recommended to fruit growers, but in practice (except in a few cases) it is rarely followed. Hand weeding is the common practice in Nepal. Shallow cultivation with hand tools at the time of inter-cropping is the only way of working the soil in orchards.

Pests and Diseases

In Nepal, reports on plant protection research work on fruit crops are very scanty. The problem of major pests and diseases of these crops is alarming. The main pests and diseases and general practices for their control are given in Table 8.

Table 8. Major Pests and Diseases and their Control

Fruit Crop

Pest

Control

Disease

Control

Apple

 

Woolly aphid

Democrone Sumithion

Apple scab (in humid areas)

Bavistin

San Jose Scale

Diazinon

Papary bark or pink disease

Bordeaux Paste Bordeaux Mixture spray

Defoliating Beetles

Parathion



Stemborer

Parachloro Benzene Powder

Powdery mildew Root Rot Crown gall

Karathane Bordeaux mixture Fumigation

Pear

 

Pear psylla

Metacid or Aldrin

Fire blight

Cutting out branches & sanitation

Defoliating beetle

Parathion

Pear decline

Control of Pear psylla

Bag worms

Metacid



Peach

 

Peach aphis

Diazinon or metasystox

Leaf curl

Benlate or captan

Defoliating beetle

Light traps Parathane

Powdery mildew

Karathane

Plum

 

Plum aphid

Diazinon

Gummosis

Bordeaux mixture

Miles

Kelthane



Fruit Moth

Malathion

Root Rot (Phytopthora)

Good drainage

Sawflies

Dichlorvas



Apricot

Treeborer

Thiodane

Brown Rot

Benomyl


6. INTERCROPPING

Farmers of Nepal do intensive intercropping so long as there is sufficient space between trees. Farmers usually do shallow cultivation on the surface away from the periphery of the trees. Most of the farmers use maize, pulses, mustard, vegetables, potato and spices as inter-crops.

7. HARVESTING AND YIELDS

Harvesting of deciduous fruits is entirely done by hand. Fruits are picked by hand (sometimes beating with stick) and placed in large bamboo baskets. Fruits are collected into one place until they are sent to the market. Actually, no grading is done here except sorting out badly damaged fruits as a result of bad harvesting or due to pest and disease damage.

The actual yield of these crops is quite variable due to many factors. An exact record on yield is, therefore, not available but estimated figures of national average are given in Table 3.

8. MARKETING

Most of the deciduous fruits are cultivated in remote and isolated mountain areas. The majority of these areas neither have access to motorable roads and marketing channels nor any storage and processing facilities. Fruits are packed in simple bamboo baskets, each weighing about 30 kg, or sometimes in jute bags and transported by porters or mules to nearby markets or road collection points. In some places it takes several days to reach these points. Once these fruits reach road heads, they are transported by trucks, buses and even airplanes to large markets. After arriving at the markets they are sold to wholesalers or middlemen. Purchasing is done on weight basis or as whole basket load.

Perishable fruits like peach and plum have great difficulty to find markets in remote areas, and farmers are obliged to sell them at very nominal prices; sometimes they may not get buyers at all. From the most remote areas of the high mountain regions, fruits, especially apples are airlifted by plane in limited quantity to large markets. This is the common mode of transport in Mustang and Jumla areas. In these areas, most of the fruits are sold locally to incoming tourists or to local processors at surprisingly low prices. In these high mountain areas a local method of cellar storage has been developed to store apples. Pre-treated fruits with 0.25% potassium permanganate solution are packed in wooden crates and stacked in rock-lined dark cellars. The humidity in such cellars is controlled by providing running water channels on the floor. In these cellars, fruit can be stored for about 3-7 months depending upon the elevation of the place.

Exports and Imports

Nepal imports fresh as well as dried and processed fruit products, mainly from India, in large quantities. Among the fresh fruit, apple is imported in bulk. A very small quantity of these fruits is exported to India. It is really difficult to get actual data on imports and exports of fruits. Total fresh fruit imported into Nepal in 1996 is reported to be worth about 100.8 million Nepalese Rupees (about US$2 million) whereas only 0.6 million rupees (US$ 10,000) worth of fruit was exported. Nepal is heavily dependent on imported fruits.

9. PROCESSING

There are about 2000 agro-processing enterprises in Nepal, but only about 150 are fruit and vegetable processing enterprises. Processing some deciduous fruits into alcoholic products has become very popular, especially in remote areas. There are about 130 small processing units in the hill districts, out of which 25 are wineries. The second important processed product of these fruits is jam, locally very popular, and is sold specially to tourists, restaurants and hotels. Air dried apple slices also are becoming quite common. Apple fruits that are not sold are sliced and sun-dried locally in the growing areas.

10. POTENTIAL FOR DECIDUOUS FRUIT PRODUCTION DEVELOPMENT

Agriculture is the backbone of the Nepalese economy and horticulture is recognized as one of the important sub-sectors of agriculture. It contributes about 13% to the total agriculture GDP (AGDP) but covers only 4.4% of the total cropped area.

Due to the wide range of climatic conditions Nepal has a unique opportunity to develop many fruit crops. During the last two decades, Nepal has been under the process of rapid urbanization. Demand for fruits is also growing at a fast rate due to the awareness of balanced diet and changing dietary habits of the people. It is quite evident that fruit farming is far more profitable than cereals, where marketing and other essential facilities exist. Per capita fruit consumption is far below the recommended level and only 45% of the local demand of fruit is met by domestic production, while the rest is imported from India. However, the Agriculture Perspective Plan (1995) quotes that 85% of the total consumption is imported. Soil erosion from the intensive cultivation of land and environmental degradation from the rapid deforestation are detrimental to the environment and agriculture sustainability. Soil fertility decline is apparent throughout the hill region of Nepal. Present soil management techniques adopted are unable to meet the overall production demands of the local population.

Nearly three-quarters of the population depend on agriculture for employment. There is no doubt that fruit farming is moderately employment intensive and contributes considerably to farmer incomes. Ecological niches suitable for commercial cultivation of deciduous fruits have already been identified. These areas are becoming more and more accessible every year because of the construction of new motorable roads.

Based on the successful apple production in some pocket areas, the Agricultural Perspective Plan has identified apple as one of the high value priority commodities in the high hills. Accordingly, the Government has given high priority for developing apple production in suitable pocket areas where transport and market infrastructure have already been developed or are in the process of development. Additional areas will be covered by apple orchards under the ongoing Ninth Five Year Plan period (Table 9).

Table 9. Area Expansion (in Hectares) for Deciduous Fruits during the Ninth Five Year Plan (1997/98-2001/02)

Crop

1997/98

1998/99

1999/2000

2000/2001

2001/2002

Total

Apple

189

186

240

290

359

1264

Pear

76

46

32

32

32

218

Walnut

90

85

80

80

80

415

Peach

43

39

22

22

22

148

Plum

27

23

22

22

22

116

Apricot

4

10

5

5

5

29

Persimmon

6

9

10

10

10

45

Total

435

398

411

461

530

2235


11. CONSTRAINTS IN DECIDUOUS FRUIT PRODUCTION DEVELOPMENT

Almost all types of deciduous fruits are being grown in various parts of Nepal but it has not been demonstrated as an economic enterprise. This is because they are constrained by a number of factors which can be broadly categorized as a) Infrastructural, b) Physical and Environmental, c) Agronomical, d) Technical and e) Socio-economical.

a) Infrastructural Constraints

Deciduous fruit growing areas are situated in remote places in the mid and high mountains. These areas are not yet accessible to motorable roads and large markets, so farmers are facing big problems in selling their produce which discourages them from venturing into commercial production enterprises.

Essential inputs such as fertilizers, plant protection chemicals and horticulture tools etc. are not regularly available and on time, in these areas. Farmers have to depend upon compost and farmyard manures which are not readily available to fruit crops. As a result, fruit trees are nutrient deficient, untrained, unpruned and unprotected against diseases and pests. These are some of the causes for low yield and poor quality of these fruits.

Fruit cultivation requires large initial investment which the majority of Nepalese farmers cannot afford to make and have no access to any credit. Organized marketing channels, transportation, storage and processing facilities have not yet been developed in all deciduous fruit growing areas of the country. These are very important limiting factors that hamper profitable fruit farming in the country.

b) Physical and Environmental Constraints

Physically, Nepal is situated in a very difficult region of the world. More than 80% of its geographical area comes under hilly and difficult terrain with very steep slopes, loose soil and rocky structure. It is understandable how difficult it is to establish the basic development infrastructures in these areas for a very poor country like Nepal. It is also being threatened by the alarming situation with regard to environmental degradation and soil erosion that is being created by the rapidly growing population, compounded by unemployment and poverty (> 40% are below absolute poverty line).

It might appear that there would be great opportunities to grow a wide range of fruit species at specific locations in Nepal when one considers the enormous range of climatic conditions. However, certain unfavorable conditions also exist in Nepal such as heavy rain during monsoon period, uneven distribution of rainfall, high wind and hailstorms, spring frost etc. More than 90% of rainfall occurs from June through September, precisely when deciduous fruits are developing and maturing. It is difficult to control diseases and insects during such warm humid summers.

In the dry spring months from March to May when temperatures are high with little rain and no irrigation, fruit trees are seriously stressed due to which productivity is reduced. In most of the deciduous fruit growing areas, spring hailstorms are very common, which cause tremendous damage to developing fruits. Many potential deciduous fruit growing pockets in high mountains experience spring frosts that can destroy the flowers at full bloom stage. This spring frost causes more damage to warm temperate fruits like pear, peach and plum. Some important fruit growing areas like Mustang and Jumla experience strong wind in the spring that causes severe flower and fruit drop.

c) Agronomic Constraints

Lack of quality planting materials, mineral fertilizers, and incidence of economically important insect pests and diseases are the most important agronomic constraints to fruit cultivation in Nepal.

It is estimated that more than 270,000 deciduous fruit plants are needed annually. The majority of the nursery plants produced in the country are of inferior quality and not true to type. Most of the private nurseries do not maintain quality mother stock and standard rootstocks. Plants produced in the private nurseries are generally of sub-standard and not healthy.

Another important constraint to fruit production in this country is the incidence of economically important insect pests and diseases. For example, woolly aphis, San Jose Scale of apple, and defoliating beetles of pear and peach, and diseases such as apple scab, pink disease of apple, pear decline, peach leaf curl and foot rot are commonly found.

d) Technical Support Constraints

These constraints are summarized as follows:

- Low priority for fruit research
- Poor allocation of fiscal resources
- Lack of trained manpower
- Weak extension system in horticulture
- Inadequate technical information
The Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC) is the sole agent responsible for fruit research. Only a little research has been done in fruit crops to solve technical problems which the growers are facing. There is also a total lack of coordination between research and development.

Every district agriculture extension office has horticulture extension staff but they are completely deprived of technical backstopping. The number of deciduous fruit specialists is very limited in the country. Horticulturists working in extension have very limited access to information on new horticulture technologies and they are not exposed to any specialized training.

e) Socio-Economic Constraints

- Lack of experience in fruit growing
- Socio-cultural
- Food habits
- Land tenure
Unlike cereal crops, farmers of Nepal are not experienced in growing fruit crops, since commercial fruit growing is not traditional in Nepal. Most of the Nepalese farmers have small and fragmented holdings which are primarily occupied by cereals, and it is really difficult to persuade farmers to grow fruit trees instead of cereals.

12. GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PLANS FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Until 1990, both agriculture research and development were the responsibility of the Department of Agriculture under the Ministry of Agriculture. However, in 1991 the Nepal Agriculture Research Council (NARC) was formed as an autonomous organization under a separate act. Now, NARC is mandated for all research activities and the Agriculture Department (DOA) for all extension and development activities.

There are many horticultural stations under DOA and NARC located in different agro-ecological regions of Nepal which are supposed to carry out both research and development activities. However, as far as research on deciduous fruits is concerned, very little work has been done. There are a number of reasons for that such as lack of qualified manpower and infrastructure, poor coordination between NARC and DOA, inadequate research funds, lack of long term planning and vision. Whatever research work has been carried out so far, it concentrated mostly on plant protection, cultivar collection and maintenance.

Horticulture Development Plan and Policies

The Government has recognized horticulture as one of the important sub-sectors of agriculture in Nepal. Horticulture has been considered as a key to high growth rates and accorded priority in most of the past development plans. Despite the development potential and accorded priority, the pace of growth of horticulture has been very slow.

In view of the slow growth in the past and the ever increasing demand for horticultural products and to harness the immense potential of the country a “Twenty Year Horticulture Development Plan” was formulated in 1990 with support from the Asian Development Bank, named as the “Master Plan for Horticulture Development (MPHD)”.

Despite the implementation of eight development plans in the past, no significant improvement in the living standards of the people has been achieved. Nonetheless, development efforts of the past decades have accelerated some basic infrastructure development. In view of this situation, a long term Agriculture Perspective Plan (APP) has been designed for Nepal that would lead past development towards a dynamic growth path. APP has taken agriculture as the engine of economic growth and that can trigger multiplier effects on the other sectors of the economy. Horticulture, sericulture and apiculture have been treated as high value commodities in the APP.

Based on the successful story of apple production in some areas and its advantages, the APP has identified apple as one of the high value priority commodities in high mountain areas. In the ongoing Ninth Five Year Plan, the Government has taken a policy of developing commercial orchards of apple in suitable pocket areas of western to far-western development regions. Eleven such districts have been recognized as most suitable for commercial apple cultivation (Table 4).

13. CONCLUSION

Considering the suitable climatic conditions, the country can develop deciduous fruit cultivation to a great extent. These crops have been successfully grown in different parts of the hilly regions of the country. If these fruit crops are commercially developed they can make a significant contribution towards poverty alleviation as well as towards the improvement of the national economy.

Many improved cultivars of these crops have adapted very well under Nepalese conditions and have been distributed throughout the country. The market demand for these fruits is enormous. The Government is also fully committed to the development of horticulture in the country. The 20-year Agricultural Perspective Plan (APP), which has accorded high priority for the development of horticulture in mid and high mountain regions, has already been initiated. Despite the development potential and accorded priority for these crops, it has not yet been demonstrated that fruit growing is an economically viable enterprise. This is because fruit production in Nepal is constrained by a number of factors as mentioned earlier. If these difficulties are properly addressed, there is a tremendous potential for further development of deciduous fruits production in Nepal.

REFERENCES

Chadha K.L. 1998: Potential for development of temperate and sub-tropical fruit production in Nepal. Division of Plant Production and Protection, FAO, Rome.

Gautam J.C. & Thapa P.K. 1995: Consolidated Approach to Fruit Development in Nepal, Seminar Paper, DOA.

NPC - HMG/N 1995: Nepal Agricultural Perspective Plan (APP), Final Report.

Shrestha K.B.& Shrestha G.P., 1995: A position paper on policy Constraints/Facilitation for private sector involvement on apple in Nepal, AEC.

Shrestha T.B. & Shrestha K.B., 1995: Status of Fruit Development - Seminar Paper, Nepal.

Shrestha G. K., 1995: Research activities on Fruit Crops in Nepal, Seminar Paper, KTM, Nepal.

Shah B.B. & Aryal S.B., 1992: Horticulture Development in Nepal in relation to agro-ecological zones, problems and prospects. Proceedings of the Seminar/Workshop in Nepal.

MPHD, 1991: Master Plan for Horticulture Development in Nepal, Volume I and IV, HMG/Nepal, Kathmandu.

National Horticulture Seminar, 1986: Proceedings, FDD, Kirtipur, Nepal.

FDD, 1985: Fruit Development in Nepal - FDD, Kathmandu, Nepal.

Thompson M. 1982: Development of Fruit and Nut crops in South & East Asia. Regional office for Asia and Pacific FAO, Bangkok.

Lalatta F. 1976: Deciduous fruit culture development in the hills. HADP, Nepal.

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