Agriculture: Business people from Paro and Thimphu have started lobbying the farmers of Tsanglajong and Zurphel of Trong gewog in lower Zhemgang by offering advance payment.

This is because the orange yield in these villages is expected to double this year compared with the previous years.

A few of the farmers have already accepted advance money from their buyers.

Dawa Dema is one of the highest earning farmers in the village and she is expecting to earn not less than Nu 300,000 this year. Last year, she sold her mandarin to a buyer from Paro for Nu 150,000. She has 600 fruit bearing trees currently.

Dawa Dema said that a few buyers had already inspected her orchard and offered advance payment but she is yet to make a decision. “ I am expecting a better price this year,” she said.

Norbu, a tshogpa contestant, is also expecting to fetch good money from his 117 trees this year. He has also received a few interested buyers willing to pay in advance.

Meanwhile, some buyers are insisting the farmers who have already taken advances to sell their mandarin to them by offering even higher prices.

Sonam Dorji, 64, who is yet to decide whether to sell to the contractors said that he is expecting to fetch a few hundred thousand Ngultrums from his 300 trees.

Sonam Dorji, who sold his oranges for Nu 200,000 last year, said that he learnt that his crop was sold again to another buyer for a good profit margin last year. “I may not sell to them this year. “I regretted selling for so cheap.”

Some villagers are not happy selling to the business people as they bring their own labourers to pick oranges, which deprives the village youths from getting a temporary job.

A villager said they are now contemplating selling the oranges directly so that they create temporary jobs for students in winter. “Our youths can be engaged in plucking oranges during winter,” said a farmer.

Agriculture officials have already trained the farmers on how to pick oranges.

Almost all 32 households in Tsanglajong and Zurphel own an orange orchard.

Usually, at this time of the season, orange fruits fall, indicating signs of infection or low yield. But this has not occurred in any of the orchards of this village this year.

Many of them had started expanding their orchards with new plantations.

Tashi Tenzin | Zurphel