Ground apple gaining ground in country

KATHMANDU, March 26: Many of us are familiar with apples that grow on trees. But there exists another Asian fruit called ‘ground apple’ that is gaining ground among Nepali farmers of late.

The fruit, also known as Yacon, is believed to have entered Nepal from Japan around a decade ago.

Recently, this multi-purpose fruit has started attracting a big number of farmers for its commercial farming value given its high demand in the international market, shared Rajaram Poudel, a farmer who deals in this fruit.

“Although the main market of ground apples is abroad, these days Nepali consumers are also taking a great deal of interest in it,” he informed.

He opines that the fruit is also generating interest from health-conscious people, as it is reported to have medicinal value for patients with diabetes and is useful in weight control.

Another farmer Hari Subedi shared that a plant can yield up to 18 kilograms of ground apples.

The ground apple, although evokes another variety of apple, ironically, neither resembles the regular apple in shape nor taste. Rather this fruit looks like sweet-potato in shape and tastes sweet.

Subedi added that one kilogram of ground apple is being sold for Rs 200, whereas this fruit is fetching double the regular selling price in tourist areas like Thamel, Bouddha and the like in Kathmandu.

A sapling of ground apple costs around Rs 50.

It is suitable to cultivate ground apples in areas at an altitude of above 1,500 metres from the sea level.

As the commercial farming of this fruit could be started with a small capital and the demand is also increasing in the market, a growing number of farmers in Kathmandu and Ramechhap districts are growing ground apples, said Subed.