Dagana, a district in the sub tropical region in Bhutan, is known for its oranges and cardamoms, but now, for the first time in Dagana, around ten household in Goshi Gewog have started growing apples since early 2014.
The move was inspired by a farmer who planted an apple seed in his flower pot, which grew well and even started bearing fruits over the last few years. The farmers then decided to grow apples along with oranges, cardamoms, avocados and hazel nut.
Apples are grown in colder climate areas in western and northern Bhutan, especially in Paro and Thimphu. A farmer, Tenzin, in Goshi Gewog said that growing apples can bring in a huge income for the farmers. “The weather is also cool in this region compared to most of the places in the dzongkhag. I think this product will come out well,” he said.
The farmers have purchased apple tree saplings from dealers in Paro. Each of the farmers has planted at least of 50 saplings in their orchard.
“Except for those eaten by deer and other animals, most of the plants are growing well. For now only the leaves are there and it will take at least three years to bear the fruits,” said Dhal Bir Gurung, a farmer in Goshi Gewog.
He further added, “I was encouraged by one of the retired Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer (DAO), who is also one of the suppliers, that the fruit may grow good with favourable weather though I haven’t earlier heard of growing apples in the region.”
However, the current DAO, Passang Tshering, said, “We certainly are not aware that such practices are being practiced since we were not informed. And given the technical reason, it is literally impossible to grow apples in this particular region since it falls under sub-tropical region which is only favourable for growing cardamom and orange. But it may be possible due to the climatic shift.”
He said that he would not recommend that the farmers grow apples. “But it’s good that they are trying something new, and as far as it works, they may proceed under at their own risk,” he added.