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Orange prices increase 65% as hailstorm wipes out crops

The wholesale price of orange has leapt more than 65 percent following a sharp drop in output as a hailstorm wiped out the citrus crop in the eastern hills. 

The fruit is being sold for Rs120 per kg (US$1.856) wholesale and Rs180 per kg retail, said traders.

Shipments totalled 400 tonnes as of the third week of November, compared to 1,500 tonnes during the same period last year. The Dharan agriculture market recorded transactions totalling Rs120 million as of the third week of November last year when the wholesale price was Rs85 per kg, “Considering the decline in supply, we can assume that production of oranges in the hilly districts of the Koshi corridor has dropped sharply,” said Laxman Bhattarai, manager of the agriculture market management committee in Dharan. “The market has not been able to fulfil the demand of customers.”

Oranges are shipped from Dharan to markets like Itahari, Biratnagar, Damak, Pathri, Birtamod, Rajbiraj, Lahan and Janakpur.

This year, production of the citrus fruit is expected to be enough to meet the requirement of Dharan only.

He said that orange producers had said that output had fallen steeply, driving prices up. Dhankuta, Bhojpur, Terhathum, Khotang and Sankhuwasabha are the key orange producing districts in the eastern hills.

Traders normally travel to these districts to collect the fruit. However, they have been disappointed this year.

According to Bhattarai, a hailstorm struck during the flowering time and wiped out crops. Orange traders Tika Ram Shrestha and Gyan Bahadur Basnet said that production had dropped 40 percent in Khoku, Maunabudhuk, Okhre, Danda Bazaar and Sayule in Dhankuta.

In Bhojpur, production is down 50 percent this year. “A hailstorm affected production this year,” they said. Farmers have reported that a number of orange plants have died. In the last fiscal year, orange production reached a high of 7,925 tonnes.

1 Indian Rupee = 0.015 US Dollar

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