SIX DECADES OF FRUIT DEVELOPMENT IN NEPAL
Bhairab Raj Kaini, Gopal Prasad Shrestha and
Growing fruit trees in the kitchen garden were practiced in Nepal since time immemorial. The establishments of the Horticulture Section under the Department of Agriculture in 1955 and 13 Horticulture Farms at different agro-ecological zones of the country with the support of Indian Cooperation Mission (ICM) were very important steps of modern fruit development in Nepal. The Department of Horticulture that was created in 1967 had lost its identity in 1972. Then Fruit Development Division and National Citrus Development Program were created in the same year. Fruit development programs were also supported by many donor-funded projects during the period of 1970 to 1990. Despite the fact that the number of manpower has increased from one horticulturist in 1941 to a few hundred at present, there is erosion in the quality of manpower. Furthermore, due to poor resources and opportunities in the horticulture farm/centres, horticulturists do not like to work in the horticulture farm/ centres these days. In the last four decades, area was increased by 11 times whereas increase in production was 12 times. Fruit sapling production and distribution was a public sector business, before 1975. The government initiated the establishment of private nurseries from 1975. Today more than 90 percent share of total fruit sapling production and distribution is met by the private nurseries. Despite of these changes, the quantity and value of importation of fruits is increasing in recent years due to the rate of demand increasing faster than the increasing rate of production, resulting in a wider trade deficit. Research back-up is very weak and progress on the development of grading and packaging facilities is very poor. NGOs and other development partners are least interested in fruit development as most of the fruit crops take long time to give returns or results.However, most of the fruit crops are environment friendly and some of these crops can be successfully grown even in the undulating and earthquake induced cracked lands.