Mango production has been increasing in the country over the past few years. According to the Department of Agriculture, in the fiscal year, 2020/21, a total of 466,267 metric tonnes of mango was produced from 43,689 hectares of land. In the FY 2021/22, the production has risen to 498,859 metric tonnes from 39,579 hectares of land. In the current FY, 2022/23, the production has increased from 10.67 to 12.61 metric tonnes each hectare.
The production has swelled as this is the peak production season, said senior agricultural economist Sunil Kumar Singh, the Department’s spokesperson, adding that fruits produced in Nepal including mango are of quality as compared to other countries.
Increasing production has decreased the price of mango with substantial supplies. In general, the wholesale price of one kilo of mango was between Rs 40 and Rs 50 during this season. The same amount of mango fetched between Rs 80 and Rs 90 during the same period last year, said Amar Baniya, President of Nepal Fruit Wholesale Entrepreneurs Association, Kuleshwor.
However, the price varies when it comes to different varieties of mango. As the season is about to be over, its price would also go up.
Maldaha mango is in high demand in the market. The retail price of this mango species was Rs 100 per kg. Dashahari variety is a bit costlier. In general, other species of mango were sold for Rs 100 per one and a half kg. During the peak season, around 100 tonnes of mango were supplied to the Kathmandu Valley from Kuleshwor on a daily basis. Now, the figure has gone down to 50 tonnes, as the season is getting over.
Large quantity of mango was supplied to the market this time, thus reducing its price in the market. "This time, the price of mango was much cheaper as compared to previous years as per around 25 years of my trade experience. The production was also good," said Baniya.
He expects the sale of mango amounting to Rs 300 million from the market this year. It is hard to figure out the exact data of mango sales as there lacks an integrated transaction, he said. According to him, the taste and quality of Nepali mangoes are good, and mangoes from outside the country cannot replace domestic products. Nepali mangoes can take over the market as mango production can take place even during off season, he viewed.
But, mangoes produced from outside the Kathmandu Valley cannot get an easy access to the Kathmandu market, making the matter worse, he said. When they get to the Kathmandu market, they end up damaged and rotting resulting in difficulties to sell in the market, he lamented.
So, the government must focus on marketing, packaging and grading Nepali products, suggested entrepreneurs. "Bananas supplied from Maharashtra in India are found intact when they reach Kathmandu in five days. But bananas supplied from Kailali district, which is much nearer from Kathmandu than Maharashtra, are found damaged upon reaching Kathmandu," he said. This is because due to the packaging and grading problem, he viewed.
There is no uniformity in the price of mango as much unripe mangoes fetch lower price, and ripe mangoes are sold for higher price. Similarly, other factors also matter. Traders reach out to the farmers in the garden itself, and purchase the whole mango trees with fruits. It means there are difficulties to determine the exact cost price and the salling price.
Most of fruits are sold from the market in Kuleshwor while the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Market sells only around 10 percent of fruits, said Binaya Shrestha, deputy director of the Kalimati Fruits and Vegetables Development Committee. The Market sold 1,382 tonnes of mango from the market between 14 April and 2 July, 2023. The figure had 50 percent of mangoes (793 tonnes) supplied from Siraha district, 119 tonnes from Saptari and 130 tonnes from Sarlahi. Twelve percent (163 tonnes) were supplied from India.
Nepali mangoes dominate the local market during their season, and mangoes are supplied from India during the beginning and end of the season, and during the off season, he said. During the beginning of its season, its price goes higher, and during the peak season, it goes cheaper. The Nepali months of Jestha and Asar are the peak season for Nepali mangos in general. Maldaha mangoes dominate 90 percent of the total mango market, he said. In the first week of Jestha this year, mangoes were sold for Rs 228 per kg in the retail market, Rs 191, Rs 111 and Rs 86 towards the second, third and fourth week respectively.
Similarly, in the first week of Asar, one kg mangoes fetched Rs 62, and Rs 73, and Rs 75 in the second and third week respectively. On July 2, the wholesale price of one kg mangoes was between Rs 60 and Rs 70.
Mango farming in 24 districts
Mango farming has occupied around 35 percent of the total production areas of fruits in Nepal, according to available data. Commercial mango cultivation is done in 24 districts including Jhapa, Morang, Sunsari, Udayapur, Siraha, Saptari, Mahottari, Sarlahi, Dhanusha, Bara, Parsa, Rautahat, Dhading, Nawalparasi West, Kapilvastu, Rupandehi, Dang, Banke, Bardiya, Kailali, Surkhet, and Kanchanpur.
Despite the potential, domestic production cannot meet the increasing demand for fruits, thus leading to the imports from neighbouring India mostly and other countries.
Lack of sufficient researches, poor orchard management practices, limited distribution of fruit saplings, lack of quality fruit saplings and nursery monitoring, limitations on land holdings, lack of training and failure to attract farmers in training and other programmes, and lack of coordination between private sector and the government regarding opportunities in the sector, efficient marketing system, and special loan package to attract bigger investment are among factors behind low production.
There are many varieties of mangoes including ‘Bambai Green’, ‘Gopal Bhog’, ‘Sukatara’, ‘Golabkhas’, ‘Dashahari’, ‘Maldaha’, ‘Mallika’, ‘Aamrapali’, ‘Chausa’, ‘Kamaltiya’, ‘Sipiya’ and ‘Abehayat’. They are produced during different seasons.
The government has taken initiatives to make the country self-reliant on fruits within next 10 years, as it has launched various programmes by announcing a fruit decade between the fiscal year 2073/74 BS and 2082/83 BS.
Mango is said to have originated over 5,000 years ago in the Southeast Asia and India. During 300 AD, mango seeds moved from Asia to the Middle East, East Africa and South America.
In view of climate, mango known as the ‘king of fruits’ can be cultivated from the plans to the lowlands of the hills. Some mango varieties bear fruits every year, and others in alternate years. Sometimes, the produce is good only in a gap of 3-4 years.
A mango tree seed requires at least five to eight years producing fruits. It takes three to five months to ripe after flowering. Mango can be eaten raw or cooked. Immature fruit is often used to make pickle. Mango trees grow best in tropical and warmer subtropical climate where there is no threat of frost.
There is low growth of mango plants planted in the hot hilly areas than the cultivation in the Tarai, and the produce and fruit quality are also low. Mango is considered the main fruit among the tropical fruits. Vitamin ‘A’ and ‘C’ are abundant in ripe mangoes. The amount of acid and protein is low, and the amount of sugar is high. Mango is a tropical evergreen perennial fruit. Depending on the geographical conditions, mango can be cultivated commercially at a height of 200-600 metres above sea level. According to experts, since the same plant bears fruits for some decades (30-40 years), it is essential to make a long term plan for its cultivation.