Marpha winery clad in tattered finery

MUSTANG: The Temperate Horticulture Development Centre at Marpha in Mustang district, though the second largest revenue generator, lacking sufficent and qualified manpower.

According to the centre’s technical assistant, Taranath Gyawali, though the centre requires 20 staffers, there are only 15 there. “Farmers from Solu, Baglung and Nuwakot are working here but we lack the required manpower. We have high demand for farm products but due to lack of government concern we cannot fulfil the demand,” said Gyawali.

The total revenue collection during the fiscal year 2059-60 was Rs 7,77,704.84. In 2060-061, it increased to Rs 11,08,335.0 while during 2061-062 it rose to Rs 12,92,023.25. In 2063-064, it zoomed to Rs 14,54,302.75. Revenue is increasing every year, said Gyawali. “Apples grown here are categorized as A, B and C. A and B grade are are sold as fruit while C grade is used to make brandy and juice. A and B grade sell for Rs 15 per kg while C grade costs Rs 10 per kg,” said Gyawali.

The government gives a yearly grant of Rs 17 lakh for the operation of the centre but it is not enough. Total income from apple crop and sale of products is Rs 17 lakh annually.

The horticulture centre is churns out dried apples, brandy, cider wine and juice which support the tourist trade in Mustang district. Thus, farmers are getting advantage from both horticulture products and tourism industry.

Total area under apple cultivation at present is 321 hectares and the yield was more than 1600 tonnes of fresh fruits in the fiscal year 2063-064. Four private distilleries, two apple juice production centres and a community solar dryer are in full operation.

Farmers prepare brandy, cider wine, dried apples, dried apricots, jams, jellies and apple pie for marketing as well as household consumption. They also grow good quality vegetables, seeds of broad leaf mustard, coriander, and garlic. The centre grows vegetables and other temperate region fruits as well as seeds and saplings on 165 hectares.

The centre, during the fiscal year 2005-06, distributed 21,649 fruit saplings 604,468 kg vegetable seeds and 3,73,380 vegetable seedlings.

The price of processed products like apple brandy, apricot brandy, plum brandy per litre is Rs 130. Grape brandy is Rs 150 per litre. An apple sapling is Rs 20. An apricot sapling costs Rs 15, a plum sapling Rs 15 and a grape cutting Rs 8.

The farm was established in 1996 as Orchard cum Nursery, Thak Marpha, eight km south of the district headquarters Jomsom and Kali Gandaki.