Horticulture: Avocado (Gulee) is becoming the new mandarin for farmers of upper Kheng in Zhemgang with some of its growers already earning a decent income from its sale.

One of the avocado growers from Dakphel, Tobgye said the fruit not only fetches higher prices but also better than cultivating mandarin.

“While an orange orchard of 100 trees fetches Nu 30,000, an avocado tree during favorable season fetches Nu 20,000,” Tobgye said. This year, he earned Nu 70,000 from the yield of six avocado trees.

In Kekhar, the income was even better where fruits from a tree alone fetched Nu 20,000. In Dakphel a tree fetched Nu 15,000.

“On an average an avocado tree fetches Nu 12,000 while during favorable fruition, it can fetch up to Nu 25,000,” agriculture extension agent Tshewang Thinley said.

In Dakphel, farmer Lemo sold her last year’s yield for Nu 160 a kilogram. This year she sold a kilogramme of avocado for Nu 250.

Besides the good price it fetches, growers also have no difficulty marketing the fruit.

“Buyers come here to the farm without us having to take it to the market,” Tobgye said, adding that the demand continues to exceed production.

Tshewang Thinley added, “Those who sell in Thimphu said a kilogram of avocado fetches Nu 300-400.”

Demand for avocado saplings has also been promising with farmers from Dagana travelling to Zhemgang to purchase the saplings. Tobgye said he is growing over 420 saplings currently.

A sapling costs Nu 120 each and if properly nurtured and managed, avocado starts fruiting by three years.

While a handful of plantation existed in Trong and Nangkor gewogs, the commercial cultivation of avocado started in 2012.

“Avocado cultivation in large scale began only recently to replace the dying mandarin orchards from citrus greening,” Tshewang Thinley said.

Over 500 avocado saplings were raised from the existing three-four varieties and the popular Japan Gulee grown in the villages was distributed in Trong and Nangkhor for free.

Tempa Wangdi, Bumthang