Neten Dorji | Gelephu

Mandarin orange orchard owners in Jigmechoeling gewog in Sarpang have seen an overwhelming production this year. Some orchards produced three times the usual yield.  

A resident, Narayan Battarai from Tashi Gatshel, said income from mandarin tripled this year.

“I have over 600 trees and sold my oranges for around Nu 1.2 million,” he said. 

He added that he earned only Nu 110,000 last year. “The hard work has paid off after seven years,” he added. 

He said that the price they fetched from oranges this year is almost more than double of what they got in the past. He attributed it to a double increase in fruiting, the size and quality of the fruit. 

A farmer, Harilal Dungana, 68, has more than 300 orange trees in his orchard. His income from selling oranges fell between Nu 50,000 and Nu 70,000 in the past several years but the same orchard fetched him Nu 700,000 this year. 

“I was not surprised by the quality and had sold more and better oranges than this in the past. But this time, production has increased,” he said.  

With the income from oranges, Harilal Dungana said, he and his family go on pilgrimages and clear their debt.  

Another farmer, a major mandarin orange grower in Jigmechoeling is Ugyen Tashi. He sold his oranges for Nu 100,000 last year. He learnt his crop was sold again to another buyer for a good profit margin and decided to sell it himself this year. 

“From over 300 tress, I am expecting Nu 700,000 this year,” he said. “Initially the price was low, but now it is better.”

He said that although his orchard has trees that bear fruit in alternative years, this year’s harvest has been different. “Thanks to a good monsoon, my orchard is filled with fruits. The fruit was unexpected and unusual. I have no words to describe my happiness.”

The maximum amount he received so far was Nu 3,50,000 in 2019. “From two boleros full last year, the production increased to over five DCM trucks this season,”said Ugyen Tashi.

Teknath Adhikari, 40, said he does not own a huge orange orchard but the yield is exceptionally good this year. He already sold for Nu 3,50,000. He usually earns around Nu 2,50,000 a year.

He said one of the factors contributing to the increase in production was proper management of orchards, good manure and adequate rainfall.  

However, a few growers in lower parts of Jigmechoeling said the yield was not good this year. Oranges started falling off and production decreased year by year.

Gewog agriculture Extension Officer, Dorji Wangchuk said that Chungshing, Chakpai, Tormaphu, and Tsesagang are four major areas that produce oranges in Jigmechoeling gewog. 

“To boost production and for proper management of orchards, we have plans to start citrus canopy management,” he said.  

He said that the canopy management programme likely to start this year would help farmers to learn how to manage the trees from dying and improve production.