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Changing Climate Threatens Apple Farming In Lower Mustang

Lete and Kobang in Mustang district, once famous for apples and products made of apple such as dried apples, apple jams and brandy (Marpha) among others, no longer grows apple lately.

Locals who were dependent on apple farming in both localities situated at around 2,500 metres above the sea level are left with no other option than seeking alternative to apple farming. Much to the astonishment of the locals, until a decade and half ago apples used to be grown commercially in the land only up to 3,000 metres above sea level. These days, apples are cultivated only in highland above that elevation.

In Lete and Kobang, fruits like pears, walnut and apricot have replaced apple farming, informed Agriculture Knowledge Centre, Mustang Chief Prakash Bastakoti. He informed that apple is grown in Lomanthang (3,800 meters) and its surrounding areas lately.

Locals shared that apple farming was booming in Muktinath and Chusang areas in the district known for producing fragrant, juicy and crispy apples. Proprietor of Hotel Grand Sambala in Muktinatha, Suraj Gurung, shared that more and more farmers in those areas were fascinated in commercial apple farming of late.

Ram Chandra Baral, professor at Prithvi Narayan Campus Pokhara said that topics like increase in rainfall in the mountainous region and change in the agriculture system, among others can be linked to the climate change effects. Baral has been conducting research on various issues of the mountainous region since long.

He shared that he has been closely observing apple farming shifting to higher altitudes, relating his research experience since nine years. Baral added that he bought apples for Rs 60 per kilo at Marpha, for Rs 100 at Jharkot and for Rs 150 at Jhong back then. As he said, the taste of apple gets more delicious, the higher the altitude of its cultivation.

Baral added that in recent years attraction has increased towards constructing apple orchards at higher regions as Yara and Ghami areas of Mustang.

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