Orange Trees Climb Higher in Bhutan with Climate Change

“Since the upper altitude regions are bearing more oranges than lower altitude regions, we believe it’s due to the global warming effect. This is because a decade ago it was only in lower altitude regions that the oranges were grown.”

Growing oranges in Bhutan. (Source: http://thebhutanese.bt/)

 

Since the last three decades or so, cash crops such as oranges have provided farmers with a livelihood. Orange is considered one of the main cash crops other than cardamom in Bhutan.

Up till a few years ago Dagana and Tsirang exported an average of 24,000 metric tonnes of mandarins a year.

In recent years, the farmers in Dagana noticed the shift in the growth of oranges from lower to higher altitude regions. However, it is assumed that the cause is mainly due to climate change.

“Since the upper altitude regions are bearing more oranges than lower altitude regions, we believe it’s due to the global warming effect. This is because a decade ago it was only in lower altitude regions that the oranges were grown.”

Increase in the production of oranges at higher altitude

A farmer from Goshi Gewog, Purna Gurung, 54, said that the size and growth quantity of oranges in lower elevation has reduced while the upper elevation areas has started bearing bigger oranges along with increased production.

“It’s disheartening in one way because orange is a main cash crop, on the other hand it is good to know that farmers in the upper region are now getting an opportunity to grow it.”

Karna Gewog Gup Lhawang Dorji recalls how the oranges used to be exported in trucks adecades ago.

“The oranges are usually loaded in trucks to export, gradually the medium of supply changed from truck to DCM and from DCM to Bolero,” he said. He said that in recent years, it has been a struggle to even fill-up Boleros to export oranges.

Passang Tshering, the District Agriculture Officer of Dagana said, “The suitable altitude for the growth of orange is actually 1,100 meters above the sea level, but the growth pattern has shifted to 1,200 meters above the sea level in recent years,” he added

Other factors, he said is a result of the erratic rainfall pattern which can also hamper the growth of fruits and vegetables due to the poor retention of moisture by soil. “Earlier, the rainfall was timely, so people did not need to water the plants.”

He, however, said that the farmers are now aware of the causes and are encouraged to try the plantation of new fruits such as mangoes and other fruits which suit the present climatic conditions.

Diversification of crops

“As a response to the low orange production, we have asked the farmers to diversify their products promoting other sub-tropical fruits,” said Passang.

“Other crops such as mangoes, kiwi, avocados and cardamom, studying the variation in climate and altitude can serve as an alternates,” he added.

As a measure to curb the further decline of the production of oranges, the Nation Citrus Program (NCP) under the agriculture ministry made guidelines on how to revive the growth of oranges. The NCP Coordinator, Jigme Tenzin said that the mandarin production has drastically declined over the years.

Apart from Dagana, he said that the other regions like the Tsirang, Sarpang, Samtse, Samdrup Jongkhar, Zhemgang and Pemagatshel districts are faced with similar problems.

Some other reasons for the poor production, he said can be due to poor management. “Our farmers still practice the traditional way which is why orange are declining” he said.

He pointed out that the other reason can also be due to the ageing of plants whereby the productive phase of the plant gets exhausted. In such cases, he said that replantation can strengthen the scope of reviving the growth.

He said that the improvement in irrigation channels will aid growth by retaining the required moisture for the soil. He said that the other solution such as the rejuvenation and canopy management of the plant can also help to recover the growth of oranges.

 

By Tshering Delma (This article first appeared in The Bhutanese and has been edited for the New Bhutan Times)

 


Related Posts

Eastern Farmers Cashing In On Watermelon Cultivation

Farmers said that growing watermelons is easier than cultivating other cash crops like chillies and potatoes, since...

Jan 28, 2018 16:34

Farmers in Samtse Ready To Reap Quinoa

Farmers in Samtse are gearing up to harvest quinoa, a new crop which they started cultivating on a small scale as a...

Jan 18, 2018 07:18

Growing Black Sesame in Nichula

“The weather and soil are suitable for this crop,” the manager said, adding that the Farm Machinery Centre (FMC) in...

Feb 02, 2018 07:17

Gasa lives the organic dream

Organic dream to be lived in!

Jul 29, 2017 16:54

Cultivating Hazelnuts in Bhutan

All across Bhutan, thousands of farmers are partnering with Mountain Hazelnuts to cultivate millions of hazelnut trees...

Feb 27, 2018 10:03

Farmers in Bumthang Revive Buckwheat Cultivation

Buckwheat cultivation in Bumthang has been on a declining trend over the last few decades. However, the district is now...

Oct 14, 2017 06:10

Latest

News

Bhutan Lifts Ban On Rupee Note, Advises Against Holding Indian Currency In Cash

Bhutanese can now bring new series of INR 500 notes in and out of Bhutan.

Jun 20, 2018 15:17

Bhutan Joins Seeds Without Borders To Import Better Quality Seeds

The seed agreement covers a number of rice-based crops such as maize, wheat, vegetables, pulses and other crops.

Jun 18, 2018 17:40

Features

63 Year Old Traditional Healer In Bhutan Has Fixed More Than A Thousand Sprains And Fractured Bones

For more than three decades, Tashi Wangdi has been fixing fractures and sprained joints in Trashigang.

Jun 23, 2018 08:43

Tsirang’s Farmers Grow Broom Grass To Combat Landslide

Coinciding with the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on June 17, the Tsirang forest division planted at least 10,000 saplings...

Jun 21, 2018 18:26

Sports

World Cup Mania Grips Some Teenagers, Adults And Monks In Bhutan

A huge crowd has gathered in front of the massive TV screen to witness the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Jun 24, 2018 18:25

Bhutanese Sonam Rigzin Played As Goalkeeper For His Team ‘King Cobra’ In The F4F World Championship In Russia

Sonam Rigzin walked into the Sapsena Arena in Russia bearing the Bhutanese national flag to open the finals.

Jun 16, 2018 08:45

Business

Interview With Bhutan Alternatives: A Social Enterprise Which Recycles Printer Cartridges

The firm also employed 17 female and 13 male employees from underprivileged families and high school dropouts.

Jun 22, 2018 10:55

Modern Beekeeping In Dophuchen Yields Much Sought-After Bhutanese Honey, Royal Jelly And More

Other by-products such as wax, royal jelly, pollen and propolis are also in healthy demand in the market.

Jun 19, 2018 18:12

Travel

Six Senses Bhutan Preparing For October 2018 Opening

Three of the five Six Senses luxury lodges are now taking reservations for travel starting on Nov 3, 2018.

Jun 21, 2018 10:01

Heat Maps Illustrate the Sacred Routes of Buddhist Pilgrims

In Strava’s heat maps, the devotional movements of tired pilgrims become blazing symbols of sacred geography.

Jun 18, 2018 09:32

Lifestyle

‘Do You Know Your Child’ A Popular Show In Bhutan Helps Parents Bond Better With Their Kids

Since its inception in 2013, about 264 Bhutanese children have participated in the show.

Jun 20, 2018 18:43

Mountain Echoes Literary Festival Returns On Aug 23 - Here's Why You Should Attend

This year's festival celebrates 50 years of diplomatic relations between Bhutan and India.

Jun 15, 2018 00:32

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!