Farmers are concerned about dwindling incomes from citrus farming

Agriculture: Despite farmers concerned of not earning enough from citrus farming, the Farm Machinery Corporation Ltd (FMCL) has started a giant citrus orchard in Dolopchen in Kana gewog, Dagana.

Works on the project called Citrus Management began since November last year. More than 25,000 citrus saplings are growing in about seven green houses. Trees were felled on 101.4 acres of land identified for the plantation. With the deployment of two excavators, land is being prepared to transplant the saplings. The planting will be completed between April and May.

Project manager Ugyen Tshering said Druk Seed Corporation in Gelephu supplied the seeds while the seedlings are ready to be planted outside the green house.

About nine College of Natural Resource graduates are involved full-time in the project. “It’ll be a model citrus farming, done with all modern techniques and managed by qualified workers,” Ugyen Tshering said. “Once the project is in full swing more man power will be required.”

This is one of the many projects that FMCL has initiated in the country to generate revenue for the company.

The project also begins at a time when farmers in the citrus growing dzongkhags of Tsirang, Dagana and Sarpang are giving up  cultivating citrus because of the difficulty involved in management and care.

Every year either the production or the price of the cash crop falls. Farmers have already started to turn their citrus orchards into cardamom orchards after cardamom began fetching more money.

Ugyen Tshering said that while there are concerns over the dying citrus crop among farmers, the project would go ahead to see how successful it would be. “We expect to begin generating income three years after the plantation,” he said.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang