Norbugang decides to leave oranges for a crop that requires less work

Agriculture: With their orange trees deteriorating every year and with no hope of reviving a once lucrative occupation, many farmers in Norbugang gewog in Nganglam are slowly shifting towards ginger cultivation.

Oranges is the main source of income for the farmers of Norbugang. While production was better this year than in recent past years, farmers are skeptical that production will be as good next year.

Farmers said depending on oranges for income is a risk. The past few years has proved its unreliability they said. Shifting to another cash crop is the only option many here feel.

While the majority of farmers are yet to make the switch to ginger cultivation, it can be observed that many orange orchards are turning into ginger plantations.

It was about a year ago when the farmers of Norbugang realised they can shift to ginger. By then, a few farmers had already tried cultivating ginger and were even able to make about Nu 15,000 on an average.

Following that, the farmers doubled the amount of land they used for ginger cultivation. A few have planted ginger on more than an acre of their land.

Farmer Sangay Wangchuk who has cultivated ginger on his two acres of land, said that after bearing losses every year they were advised to shift to another crop and they decided on ginger since it involves less work and wildlife conflict is not a threat.

Sangay Wangchuk said instead of waiting for the orange trees to completely die, they decided to switch now and explore the crop’s potential.

The farmers market their ginger in Barpetra, Assam in India, which is located more than 50km from Nganglam. Farmers earn about Nu 15,000 to 40,000 with one harvest. However, the prices do fluctuate. One kilogramme of ginger fetches about Nu 40 to Nu 60 on an average.

“The price fluctuates but we know that we will be able to earn something to meet our daily expenses,” Sangay said. “Since the price fluctuates we’re hoping maybe someday FCB will help us auction the crop.”

The farmers are reaping the benefits of their decision. Some have renovated their houses, while others have been able to meet their children’s annual school expenses, among others.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Nganglam