The Helambu region of Nepal lies just north of Nepal's capital city, Kathmandu, stretching to the Tibetan border. The region is home to various Himalayan peoples- Sherpa, Yolmo, Tamang, and others. It is world-famous for its scenic trekking routes and cultural heritage, but for many Nepalis, it is fondly associated for a special variety of apple known to grow there.
Helambu apples are renowned throughout Nepal for their flavor and juiciness. Because of a previous lack of roads in the region, apple farmers used to carry their loads down from the Himalayas, over 50 miles (80km) to Kathmandu markets. Presently, these farmers have also faced challenges from cheap Chinese fruit imports. However, where there are challenges, there is also opportunity.
The time is now ripe for a resurgence in the Helambu apple crop:
New roads in villages shorten the time to market for the apples;
There is increased education and government development in agriculture;
Dedicated local agriculturalists are experimenting in best practices and increasing yields;
New techniques are emerging to prevent insects, infestations, and fungus growth.
In partnership with students from the Graduate Institute, Geneva, supported by a generous grant from the Kathryn W. Davis Foundation, Aythos will support the training of local farmers and the establishment of nurseries and distribution centers in Helambu villages, so that the Helambu apple can thrive once again .
By involving international volunteers and agriculture experts, Aythos will connect local farmers to the latest growing techniques by sponsoring training, and will also help establish networks for best-practice discussions between villages and other experts in agriculture and organic fruit marketing. The result will be a new method of income generation for rural farmers, and a big step in community-wide benefit.
A Helambu apple farmer demonstrates the use of an insecticide pump sprayer.