Road connectivity puts Nepal region back on map

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Kathmandu, Oct 30 (IANS) Road connectivity has put Jumla, an under-developed region in Nepal, back on the map.

Some 850 km away from Kathmandu and also the largest region in the Himalayan country, Jumla has always remained in isolation, reports Xinhua news agency.

Since the 232-km-long Karnali Highway connected this part of the country with the major nearby town of Surkhet in 2007, Jumla started witnessing gradual development.

And with the construction of a black-topped road just two years ago, Jumla is escaping the shackles of isolation.

For many senior citizens, its like a dream seeing a road and moving vehicles.

"I had never thought that this place would be connected to the capital and the world. It's not just a highway, it's good luck for all of us," Bhakta Rokaya, 60, told Xinhua news agency at his apple farm in Rokayabada village, about 15 km away from the major town.

Apple production is a major source of income for the majority of the residents of Jumla, which has a cold climate and suitable soil. While farmers like Rokaya previously had no market for their produce, the highway has proved to be a lifeline.

These days, buyers from various parts and even from the capital can now approach the apple farmers directly.

Rokaya said: "From 150 trees, I produced 4,000 kg of apples this year. I sold a few kilograms to the traders and the remainder are being processed for making dry apple slices."

Many of these entrepreneurs use hand-powered machines provided by development agencies to process the apples and sell them in the form of candy or slices in packets.

They also produce apple wine and brandy, which are becoming popular both locally and nationally.

These small scale enterprises have been supported by different national and international organisations like the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

Poverty is regarded as a major challenge in Karnali, which comprises the five districts of Kalikot, Jumla, Mugu, Dolpa and Humla. Among these, Humla and Dolpa are yet to be connected by roads.

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