During the question hour session on Tuesday, member from Lhamoi Zingkha-Tashiding constituency questioned the agriculture minister on the plans and programs to address citrus greening disease affecting the farmers.
In response, the agriculture minister, lyonpo Yeshey Penjore said, “About 39 percent of the rural households are engaged in citrus production and citrus is grown in 16 dzongkhags including sarpang, Tsirang, Dagana, Samdrup Jongkhar, Pemagatshel and Chukha.”
Lyonpo said, “Inadequate orchard management practices adopted in the field, erratic rainfall resulting from climate change, pests, fruitfly and trunk borer, abandoned orchards and difficulty in implementing citrus ordinance are the key issues and challenges related to citrus greening.”
Lyonpo also said, “It is not right to say that the government did not do anything to address the issue of citrus greening. Until 2016, the government was involved in studying the problem associated with citrus greening and in 2017 the country produced 28,000 metric tons of mandarin and exported 16,000 metric tons, earning Nu. 479 mn in that year.”
“According to the information received by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MOAF), in 2018, production has improved and export has also increased with support from the government”, lyonpo added. MPs from different constituencies questioned the agriculture minister on poor allocation of budget for the agriculture sector, water shortage and failure to pay the loan due to citrus greening.
Agriculture Minister said, “Reviving the orchards in citrus declining areas, increasing the area under citrus orchards and improving the varieties and enhancing the production through the implementation of appropriate management practices are the programs, strategies and actions proposed in the 12th Five Year Plan.”
Lyonpo said, “In the 12th plan, Nu 250 mn has been proposed for citrus orchard rehabilitation. Since citrus decline is mainly due to erratic rainfall, drought, pest and disease outbreak, the citrus rehabilitation is being developed to guide rehabilitation program by replanting old orchards beyond rejuvenation scope, rejuvenating old and declining orchards to revive and sustain the production and identifying and promoting alternative crops.”
The government is planning to produce 68,000 metric tons of oranges in the 12th plan.
He said Nu 200 mn is proposed for new orchard development which includes promotion and diversification of citrus varieties adaptable to different agro-ecological zone and for different market purposes.
“Nu 400 mn is proposed for climate smart irrigation to revive and sustain the production. Orchards are mostly under rain fed condition and suffer inadequate rainfall leading to rapid decline. However, some of the orchards are far from irrigation sources with limited scope for irrigation supply. So, development of irrigation supply to citrus orchard is one of the key intervention in the 12th plan”, lyonpo added.
While Nu 45 mn is proposed for large scale commercial production and Nu 10 mn for capacity building of farmers and extension on citrus orchard management.