Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

Hundreds of orange trees belonging to more than 60 households of a chiwog in lower Chali died over the years due to an unidentified citrus disease.

Farmers claim the disease has now ascended and reached central Chali gewog.

Sangaymo, 59, from Chasar village of central Chali, lost more than 20 fruit-bearing trees in the last five years from the disease.

She said the disease first starts turning the orange trees yellow, then the leaves fall and production decreases. “The trees then die.”

Another citrus grower, Pema Wangdi, 51, from Lamai Zhukthri of central Chali. said more than seven fruit-bearing trees died recently and the disease has now reached his new orchard. “Orange is a main source of cash income.”

However, a citrus canopy management programme was conducted recently in the two gewogs of Mongar and Chali, which is expected to stop the trees from dying and improve production.

With fund support from IFAD-CARLEP, Mongar dzongkhag agriculture sector. in collaboration with Agriculture Research and Development Center (ARDC), Wengkhar, conducted the four-day citrus canopy management programme last week.

Three research officers from ARDC Wengkhar and 15 gewog extension supervisors coordinated the hands-on training programme that covered 18 households of Mongar and 27 households of Chali gewog.

During the training, the team covered 4,642 trees planted in about 28.67 acres of land in two gewogs.  The first training activity on citrus canopy management in the dzongkhag was carried out in Kengkhar gewog in 2020 following a training from ARDC Bajo and Wengkhar.

Dzongkhag agriculture officer, Kunzang Tshering, said canopy management is mainly for regrowth and would help old trees to rejuvenate. “It would also help in nutrient water management besides easy harvesting.”

He said all gewog extension supervisors are trained and the canopy management activity would remain as an annual collaborative activity. “Citrus is grown in almost all the 17 gewogs of the dzongkhag from small to large scale and the gewog extension office will help growers to manage from next year.”