… mandarin orange fetches a good price this season

Lhakpa Quendren

Panbang – The mandarin orange business in Goshing gewog, Zhemgang, is expected to grow in the next few years, as more farmers have been planting citrus trees for some years now.

Mandarin oranges and ginger are the main sources of income for the people of Goshing.

Currently, about 40 percent of households in the gewog are involved in the mandarin orange business, while the others are cultivating citrus trees.

Lamtang Tshogpa Zangpo revived his 3-acre fallow land and planted over 1,000 citrus trees some six years ago. About 400 trees have started bearing fruits last year. “I expect to earn over Nu 100,000 during the initial production period this season.”

According to the tshogpa, each household in his chiwog has planted citrus trees ranging from 300 to thousands, and they are expanding further depending on the availability of the lands they own.

“All the farmers are showing interest in planting citrus trees. As a local government leader, I have been encouraging and informing the farmers about the business potential,” Zangpo said.

The shift in agricultural focus is widely recognized as an avenue that opens up new opportunities for farmers. Farmers say that the upcoming megacity project in Gelephu has brought excitement to the neighboring dzongkhag due to its potential for business and marketing opportunities.

Farmers prefer planting citrus trees over other cereals, saying it is a more favorable option. The mandarin orange harvest this year is good, and they are fetching a good price.

Pema Samten from Lamtang said that he received a better price this year compared to the past. “Even though there was good production in the recent past, the prices were not up to expectations.”

Last year, he earned Nu 200,000 from 360 citrus trees, including small ones, on a 3-acre land. “My earnings increased to Nu 365,000 from the same number of trees this year, which is the highest price in my three years of mandarin orange business.”

Pema Samten said that the business opportunities associated with mandarin oranges have motivated him to plant an additional 50 trees, which will take about five years to bear fruit.

However, it is not without challenges. The lack of transportation and related issues make it difficult for farmers to transport their produce to the depot. Given these challenges, traders from Gelephu, Tsirang, and the eastern regions are coming to the village to buy the produce.

“The better option is to sell our produce to the dealers that come to the village. If transportation were more accessible, we could get a better price for our produce,” Zangpo said.

A dealer, Tenzin Wangchuck from Buddhashing, said that he transported three loads of a single-cabin Bolero truck to the bordering towns of India.

“I purchased at Nu 200 per pon (80 pieces) from the village and sold them for Nu 270,” he said.

“I have a minimal profit after deducting Nu 9,000 for transportation and labour charges,” Tenzin said. He also planted 250 citrus trees that are yet to bear fruit.

Meanwhile, Tenzin Wangchuck said that although ginger yields good production, persistent challenges such as export restrictions and damages caused by pests affect their income. “There is a need to carry out research to tackle these issues.”

The farmers are also planting areca nuts and banana trees.