Poor orange yield leaves farmer’s group worried

Horticulture: The decline in orange yield in Shumar gewog this year has not only affected the farmers, but also left members of the Dungsam Gongphel Soenam Detsen (DGSD) worried.

DGSD is a group of villagers that run an integrated food-processing unit in Shumar.

The 17 members have agreed to supply 24 tonnes of pulp to the Bhutan Agro Industries Ltd. The orange yield this year in Shumar, like many other places, is not good and the group is worried if they would be able to live up to the agreement.

The group didn’t receive oranges from the villagers like in the past years. Few weeks ago, they even shut down the unit for a few days. Members said they were waiting for villagers to sell their “rejected oranges, oranges that are not fit for export.

DGSD chairman Tashi Jamtsho said they receive only rejected oranges that are usually smaller in size. “Actually the poor yields should benefit us as this would mean exporters would reject them, but that’s not happening,” he said.

The group buys the poor quality oranges for Nu 10 a kg from the villagers and sells the pulp for Nu 24 a kg. Tashi Jamtsho added they are worried if they would be able to produce even 20 tonnes this year. They have two tonnes produced in excess from last year.

Last year the group also paid Nu 150 a day, as labour charges, to its members. “We were also able to provide temporary jobs to members’ children to work at the unit.”

The group was initially formed in 2007 as a vegetable cooperative but slowly when they were informed that a processing unit would come in Shumar with the help from SNV, the group immediately grabbed the opportunity and changed it to DGSD.

The DGSD only runs about six months depending on the orange season.  The unit, Tashi Jamtsho said, was established in Shumar chiwog because they used to produce the highest orange. “But we are worried of losing our customer’s trust this year.”

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Pemagatshel 

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