Drujeygang farmers who panicked when shortage of water hampered paddy translation are all smiles now.

This is because a bountiful orange harvest, some yielding thrice the usual amount, compensated the loss.

Farmers say the price they fetched from orange this year is almost three times more than they fetched in the past, attributing it to triple increase in fruiting, the size and quality of the fruit.

A farmer, Karma Samdrup, 77, has more than 200 orange trees in his orchard.

He said he fetched between Nu 70,000 and Nu 90,000 in the past several years but the same orchard fetched him Nu 380,000 this year.  “I was surprised by the fruiting and had never sold orange for this amount so far.”

He said the product was so good that he had to place bamboo stands to support and hold the drooping branches. With the income from orange Karma Samdrup and his family went for a two-weeklong pilgrimages to Nepal.

Another farmer owning a large orange orchard in Drukjyegang is Tshering Dorji. He has almost 400 trees. He sold the fruits to a local contractor for Nu 800,000, whereas last year he sold orange from the same orchard for less than Nu 100,000.

He said that although his orchard has trees that bear fruits alternative years, this year’s harvest has been different. “The fruiting was unexpected and unusual.”

The maximum amount he received so far was Nu 500,000 in 2016. “From a DCM truck full last year, the production increased to over eight trucks this season,” he said.

Tshering Dorji said one of the factors contributing to the increase in production was proper management of orchard with support from the dzongkhag agriculture sector.

He said because of proper management, manure and adequate water, farmers did not face the common fruit dropping citrus disease this time.

Dzongkhag agriculture officials also attributed citrus canopy management for the bountiful orange harvest.

The citrus canopy management programme was introduced last year to 21 households in Drujeygang. The program helped manage 2,930 trees in the gewog.

Assistant dzongkhag agriculture officer, Kinley Namgay, said that the programme covered eight gewogs of Drujeygang, Largyab, Tshangkha, Tashiding, Tsendagang, Goshi and Kana.

In total 8,846 trees were managed in the dzongkhag. “We’ll continue the same programme again beginning next week,” he said.

The programme is expected to reach more households and manage more trees.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang