Republica Daily, 26 June 2017
JUMLA, June 26: Dhanlaxmi Khatri of Gothichaur-4 had produced nearly eight quintals of apples from 220 trees last year. But this year, black frost has destroyed buds much to the dismay of farmers like Dhanlaxmi.
Talking to Republica, Dhanlaxmi said that prolonged drought followed by hails, rainfall and black frost, as well as pest attacks, have caused fruit withering.
Another apple farmer Jaggi Prasad Jaisi, who has 250 trees say, says there are only around 10 to 15 fruits per tree. “Most of the trees have left but not fruits. Our hope of making the good profit this year has all but vanished," he said, adding: "We had enjoyed good harvest last year. But things are not working this year.”
Last year, Jaggi Prasad had earned Rs 400,000 from apple farming. “Pests used to trouble us in the past years as well. But this is the first time that black frost has affected our crop,” he told Republica. He also said local farmers were facing a huge loss because of the failure of District Agriculture Development Office (DADO) to raise awareness about black frost.
Lachhiram Mahat, a technician with DADO Jumla, said that production will fall significantly this year as black frost has covered all the trees at the time of fruition. “But total production is likely to increase this year as farming has been done in additional 100 hectares this year,” he added.
According to Mahat, black frost can be controlled by producing smoke in the farm between 1 am till 4 am during the flowering season. “We can save the fruit if we take proper care for about a week,” he added.
Apple farming has been done in 3,300 hectares of land in Jumla. Last year, 3,150 tons of apples were produced in the district.
“During an inspection of orchards of 147 farmers, we found that around 75 percent of fruits has not survived,” Mahat said, adding that there was a need to launch awareness program about black frost in the coming days.
Balak Ram Devkota, a planning officer with DADO Jumla, said, apple farms spread over 900 hectares will produce around 6,500 tons this year. “If it were not for black frost, pests, rain, and hailstones, the production would have gone much higher,” he added.
Apple farmers attracted toward crop insurance
Apple farmers, who have suffered from black frost, heavy rains, hailstones and pest attacks, are gradually being attracted toward crop insurance program.
As the government is subsidizing 75 percent of the premium, local farmers have started buying crop insurance policies. Of 391 apple farmers, who had insured their crops this year, 147 claimed for compensation. Of them, 105 have already received compensation amount.
The recipients claimed insurance of a minimum of Rs 2,191 to a maximum of Rs 14,605 per 10 trees.
According to Lachhi Ram Mahat, the focal person for Apple Farming Insurance said farmers will be compensated on the basis of damage as well as investment that they have made.
Chandra Bahadur Shahi, chief of DADO Jumla, said crop insurance is important for farmers. “Farmers suffer both due to drought and heavy rainfall as well as pest attack. If is important to have a cushion to reduce risk,” he added.
Suradi Shrestha, a senior manager with Shikhar Insurance Co Ltd, said his company was taking micro insurance and apple farming insurance hand in hand in Jumla. According to him, the program has been started in places like Mugu, Dolpa, Kalikot, and Jumla.