For more than a decade, Bhutan has been facing citrus diseases, with growers in 16 dzongkhags with major areas located in the subtropical southern regions struggling to maintain the trees. However, this may be a thing of the past as the Agriculture Research and Development Centre (ARDC)-Wengkhar in Monggar is coming up with two new mandarin varieties – Wengkhar I and Wengkhar II. The new varieties will be soon distributed to the growers by the Regional Seed Centre Trashiyangtse.
This was informed by the minister for agriculture and livestock, Yeshey Penjor to the Parliament, on June 15, 2023. It was in response to a question asked by Member of Parliament (MP) Bardo-Trong Constituency.
The Bardo-Trong MP, Gyambo Tshering questioned the ministry about measures taken to revive the mandarin industry in the country. The MP pointed out that of late, mandarin production in the country is declining due to Greening or Huanglongbing (HLB) disease.
Mandarin production is one of the leading agricultural products exported which enable farmers and exporters to earn good income. The MP shared the concern that though preventive measures have been made, production couldn’t be improved in 10 years.
Meanwhile, the minister said that mandarin production couldn’t be improved as it is also impacted by climate change. Normally, oranges can be grown between the range of 900¬-1400 meters above the sea level (absl). But in Bhutan, it is grown from 700-1700 meters absl, according to the minister.
The minister also pointed that the farmers do not care fruit trees and that diseases spread from the old trees to the young ones.
He further informed that the mandarin production since 2021 has improved with more than 18 metric tons. It had reduced by about 10 metric tons in 2014. The minister reminded the farmers not to focus only on mandarin plantation but also to other fruit trees plantation.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu