HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Nepal Pomegranate Association (NPA) has launched the Pomegranate Commercial Plantation Campaign with a target to make the country self-reliant in fruits. Pomegranate has high productivity in the country, so it will be commercially viable, said president of the association Hiralal Acharya.
“We are providing pomegranate plants to farmers interested in commercial cultivation,” he said, adding that the association is also providing technical expertise. “Our scientists are doing research to develop more efficient varieties.” At present, farmers have been producing 100kg from a single plant that is more than six years old.
According to the association, pomegranate starts production from the second year of plantation. “Its production becomes commercially viable in the fourth year,” said general secretary of the association Pradeep Ghimire. The association has received an order for 200,000 plants this year.
“We are providing the title of ‘Commercial Pomegranate Farmer’ to those who plant more than 1,000 plants,” he said. About 2.5 bighas of land is needed to plant 1,000 plants in the terai and 30 ropanis in the hills. Pomegranate is cultivated in all parts of the country that are 2,000 metres below sea level.
The association has been planning to attract foreign job aspirants to pomegranate plantation. “It provides good benefits,” he said, adding that farmers can make a profit of more than Rs 1.2 million from the fruit planted in one ropani.
The country has been importing pomegranate worth millions of rupees from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Gulf countries. Currently, the market price of the fruit is Rs 300 per kg.
Commercial plantation of pomegranate has been started in Ramechhap, Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk, Ilam, Kaski and Dhading. “Farmers from other districts are also showing interest,” said advisor of the association Radheshyam Lekali. “We want to expand it across the country.”
The association has asked the government to provide interest-free loans for pomegranate plantation from banks. Similarly, it has also urged the government to invest in research and development. Ganeshhira and Mridula are the two popular varieties in Nepal.