Dhankuta, Feb 18: Dhankuta district was famous for exporting toothsome orange creating its niche market among consumers in the eastern Terai and also in adjoining Indian markets of Bihar and West Bengal. Once a synonym of orange production in eastern hills of Nepal, Dhankuta, of late, is turning to a brand new exotic fruit – avocado.
Brought in the district by researchers and visitors of Europe in the UK-funded Pakhribas Agriculture Research Centre some three decades ago, the nutrition-rich fruit, believed to have originated in Mexico, is being rapidly promoted in Dhankuta by local governments since two and half years.Dhankuta Municipality has taken a lead in this entrepreneurial endeavor of agroforestry.
Why Dhankuta switched from orange to avocado? The mayor of Dhankuta Municipality Chintan Tamang has an easy answer. ”Due to several reasons like climate change and the likes, our orange production in the district depleted and we sought experts’ advices to replace the possible loss,” said Tamang, who has officially hired an agricultural expert. ”Avocado and dragon fruit were recommended as the most suitable fruits to our soils and temperature.” From Asia’s first avocado festival to declaration of ‘avocado capital’ After repeated soil tests and experts’ recommendation, Dhankuta Municipality decided to invest more in its production from the very beginning.
For this, municipality encouraged locals to plant avocado saplings. In order to help farmers about basic knowhow of avocado, municipality published a book, authored by an agriculture expert Jiwan Rai, detailing commercial avocado farming. In the early stage, Municipality imported 4,000 avocado saplings and distributed to local farmers. Later on, Municipality established its own avocado nursery and started distributing avocado seedlings.
”We have distributed around 25,000 avocado saplings to 500 farmers of all 10 wards of our municipality,” informed Bikash Adhikarti, the Economic Development Section Officer of the municipality. Soon after distributing thousands of avocado saplings, the third Municipal Assembly of the Dhankuta Municipality brought a new avocado-friendly plans and policies. The Municipal Assembly unanimously declared Dhankuata as the ‘Avocado Capital’ on 22 June 2018.
On 24 November, 2018, Dhankuta hosted an avocado festival which it claims as the ‘first’ avocado festival in the whole of Asia. The first ever avocado festival brought in 50 avocado farmers showcasing their 30 species of avocado produced in the district. ”In the upcoming year, we are preparing to host national-level avocado festival,” said Mayor ChintanTamang. Dhankuta’s commercial promotion of avocado was not limited within its ‘first’ avocado festival in Asia and declaring itself as an avocado ‘capital’ of Nepal.
Municipality constructed a public park at Parichaya Mode of Dhankuta-6, in the name of this high-yield fruit. Mayor’s Agro Tourism Programme, a flagship agricultural programme of the municipality spanned in an area of 11 square kilometres, has devised additional plans to attract farmers towards avocado. This multi-year programme aims to distribute 60 thousands avocado saplings within three years. Farmers are elated with good income; municipality to run a factory An avocado sapling starts producing fruits after three years. A kilogram of avocado fetches minimum of Rs 30.
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