DHANUSHA: Bananas worth Rs 40 million have been imported from India in Janakpurdham, the capital of Madhes province, alone for the Chhath festival.
Banana is a must-have fruit for performing the various rituals associated with the Chhath festival. The people observing the Chhath fasting make an offering of a single banana comb to the Sun god.
The demand for bananas is high during the Chhath and the supply is not enough to meet this demand and hence bananas have to be imported every year, said Bishweshwar Yadav, president of Janakpur Fruits and Vegetables Traders’ Committee.
According to him, although the soil in the Tarai-Madhes of Nepal is good for banana cultivation, the local production is not enough to meet the growing demand every year.
“Last year, bananas worth 17.5 million were imported in Janakpur. This year, nearly 70 truckloads of bananas have entered the provincial capital,” he said.
The Gopal and Bansibhog varieties of banana have been brought to Janakpur from Bhardaha, Bhantabari and Inaruwa of Saptari district of Nepal while the Malbhog, Mirichman, Chini Champa varieties of banana have been imported from Assam, Guwahati, Bangal, Hazipur, Thakurgunj and Champaran of India, said Bhuwaneshwar Purbe, the Committee Secretary.
He said that the price of bananas has increased by 25 percent amidst Chhath this year compared to the last year. “The demand for bananas has been growing as the number of people observing the Chhath festival increases every year. This year, 15 to 20 more trucks of bananas have been imported as compared to the previous year to meet the demand,” he said.
Yadav, the Committee president, said there are 1,200 combs of bananas loaded in a truck having 10 wheels. The transportation cost per truck up to Janakpur is Rs 600,000.
Each banana comb is sold in the range of Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 in the market.
The local varieties of banana are grown in every place in Nepal. Some of the popular varieties grown in Nepal are the Malbhog, Jhapali Malbhog, and William hybrid robusta, among others.
The banana traders and cultivators say that although there is immense prospect for banana farming, banana production has not increased in the country due to technical problems.