When Purna Bahadur Bista of Semjong in Tsirang planted four avocado saplings five years ago, he did not expect a bumper harvest. Today he harvests at least 50kilograms of avocado from a tree.
Three of the four trees bear fruit. One may even flower. Purna Bahadur said that avocado is a fairly new cash crop and it is still on trial in the villages. In Semjong, Purna is the only farmer who has been selling the fruit since 2016 year. “Most of my neighbors have planted saplings which are yet to bear fruit,” he said.
He says that if one can cultivate the fruit, the market is not an issue. Vendors come right in the garden to collect, he said. Last year, he sold 50kg for Nu 250 a kilogram. This year he expects to harvest about 170kg. One of his trees bears almost 100kgs. “I’ve space to plant another 40 saplings and will plant them soon,” he said.
While Purna will begin harvesting next month, few farmers have already started selling in the Sunday vegetable market for Nu 250-350 a kilogram.
Besides avocado, the farmer also grows hybrid passion fruit and grapes. While grapes have not progressed well, passion fruit grows well. One passion fruit, the size of a small pumpkin is sold at Nu 50.
Another farmer who grows avocado in Tsirang is Dhan Bahadur Biswa, 76, from Gosarling gewog. He has two fruit bearing trees. Although he planted more than five saplings, only two matured early to bear fruit.
Dhan Bahadur said in his first harvest last year, he harvested only 25kg. He sold it to vendors who came to his farm for Nu 250 a kilogram. However, this year he expected to harvest at least 100kg from a tree but the drought hit.
“I may not harvest even 25kg this year. No adequate rainfall this year caused dryness and killed the flowers in early stage,” he said. He however, said that avocado is a lucrative farming otherwise.
He recently bought two-hybrid saplings from Bhur farm in Gelephu for Nu 450 each. In another five years he expects to harvest at least 100kg avocados from each of his trees. “It is easy farming, it doesn’t require hard work unlike cardamom and other crops,” he said.
Many other farmers in Tsirang have planted the high-end fruit. However, only few have started harvesting it.
Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang