Citrus greening may be a problem in many of the mandarin-growing areas in the country, but not in Gomdar 

 Agriculture: Villagers of Gomdar in Samdrupjongkhar are not worried about citrus greening disease that has affected the neighbouring gewog of Martshala.

The villagers are being encouraged to grow other crops as some of the orange trees have started showing the symptoms of the disease.

Agriculture extension officer Tsheten Dukpa said the vector that carries the disease has entered the village.  However, the disease has not tested positive yet.

“After examining the symptoms, we again sent two samples again but both the samples tested nevegive,” Tsheten Dukpa said. “But we cannot take risk.”

Gomdar has so far been enjoying good mandarin orange production. Villagers expect the same this year.

Most of the villagers own almost 500 to 700 trees in an orchard and earn Nu 100,000 or more from sale of fruit.

Villagers say that the yellowing of leaves could be because of less rainfall. Now that the village is connected with road, villagers are hopeful that orange business will only grow.

Duba from Sawang village earned almost Nu 700,000 last year from sale of mandarin orange.  He said yellowing of leaves could have happened because villagers used chemical fertilizers as advised by agriculture officials. “We’ve stopped using chemical fertilizers. We will continue to depend on the orange until we experience drastic decline in the production.”

Villagers said they tried growing ginger as advised by agriculture officials but the rate fluctuates from Nu 15 to Nu 50 a mon (40kg).

“What farmers lack is management. Orange trees need constant attention,” said one agriculture official. “People will have to be more careful.”

As per the record with agriculture office, Gomdar gewog auctioned 1,237 tonnes of oranges in 2014 and 690 tonnes in 2013.

Gomdar is the highest producer of orange in Samdrupjongkhar.

By Yangchen C Rinzin, Gomdar