Income: Mandarin trees are dying due to citrus greening in Panbang, Zhemgang.

Ngadha, a farmer, said that despite investing over Nu 6,000 to improve the management, he has not been able to make a penny from the tress in three years.

Death of mandarin orchards is huge blow for the farmers of Pangbang because it is their chief source of income.

As a viable alternative, famers have now shifted to planting teak (tectona grandis). Teak is highly valued tropical hardwood that is in high demand to make furniture making both within and outside the country.

Rinchen Jamtsho, a farmer, said: “I have planted over 700 teak saplings after the orange trees started dying,” Rinchen Jamtsho said, adding that he could no longer rely on mandarin because of drop in cash incomedue to poor production.

Another farmer of Marangdhuth, Kinzang Lhamo, has also planted over 100 teak trees. Ngadha has planted 150 teak saplings.

“I am trying it because the tree has high commercial value,” Ngadha said. “I will plant more teak if they grow well.”

Forestry extension officer, Leki Tshedup, said forestry facilitated the cultivation of commercially valued trees such as teak and champak (micheliachampaca) after mandarin failed.

“We distributed saplings and stumps for free. Some people also bought on their own,” Leki Tshedup said.

In 2014, forestry distributed 26,551 teak stumps to 219 households of Ngangla.

Community forests in villages such as Yumdhang, Thinleygang and Sonamthang also planted over 1,050 teak stumps.

“People are still putting up requisition for teak saplings,” Leki Tshedup said.

RNR is also distributing other sub-tropical fruit trees such as mango, avocado, litchi and banana as alternative source of cash income for farmers. In Rebati, 29 households have taken up banana cultivation in large scale.

“People in higher elevation are also trying cardamom as new cash crop,” agriculture extension agent, Thinley Zangpo said, adding that ginger is also being tried.

The villagers, however, felt that distribution of sub-tropical fruit trees such as mango, litchi and banana need to be distributed in large numbers.

Meanwhile, Nu 13 Million worth of research sub-centre is also being planned in Panbang by Bhur research and development centre (RDC) to cater to people’s need.

“The sub-center will facilitate farmers with sub-tropical fruits, nuts, avocado, areca nut, banana and medicinal aromatic plants,” Bhur RDC sub-centre in Tingtibe, officer in-charge, Yeshey Dorji said.

Tempa Wangdi