TERHATHUM, May 14 - Nepali wines made from jungle fruits in Tamaphok of Sankhuwasabha are sought after in Germany, France and the United Kingdom. Import orders for the drink amount to 200,000 bottles annually.
The wines are produced by Makalu Wine Industry from jungle fruits like yellow raspberry, barberry and saffron which are found abundantly in Terhathum, Taplejung and Dhankuta districts.
According to Sujan Shrestha, owner of the winery, the technology used for producing the wines is purely natural and avoids use of fire. The technology helps preserve the original taste of jungle fruits, which is the main reason why there is so much demand from foreign countries and big hotels, he said. He added that his wines were much loved because of their lower alcohol content. "We have received huge orders, but we have not been able to produce wines in large quantities to meet the requirement," he said.
He added that he had not been able to enter the international market fully because he could not produce in the quantities demanded by importers in Germany and the United Kingdom. Established in 1995, Makalu Wine Industry produces 250,000 bottles of wine annually.
It pays Rs. 10 million in taxes to the government each year.
As its wines started becoming popular in the national and international markets, the company has been able to provide employment to more than 150 people to collect jungle fruits from private and community forests.
Kebal Man Gurung of the Kalika Community Forest Consumers' Group said that local residents especially women were making a handsome income collecting and selling fruits. Yellow raspberry collectors receive Rs. 46 for per kg and some of them collect as much as 15 kg per day. Tika Gurung of Marek of Dhankuta, who has been selling the fruit to the wine industry, said that she had been selling 10-15 kg daily.
According to Gurung, community and private forests have also started growing yellow raspberry and barberry because of the huge demand from the wine industry. "We have gone for commercial farming of yellow raspberry in our community forest in order to increase employment and income," added Gurung.