After facing a devastating blow to their mandarin orchards due to an outbreak of citrus disease, some farmers of Gomdar Gewog in Samdrup Jongkhar have now turned their attention to avocado cultivation as an alternative source of income. And avocado farming has already started to yield positive results for some of the farmers.
For many years, mandarin served as the primary source of income for families in Gomdar Gewog. However, the outbreak of citrus greening caused havoc; damaging the crops and leading to substantial losses. This has left most of the farmers desperate for alternatives.
Tshering, one of the farmers tried avocado cultivation in 2012, being the first to do so in Gomdar Gewog. Today, he owns around 70 avocado trees and his annual earnings from about 30 fruit-bearing avocado trees amount to about Nu 30,000.
Despite challenges like lower prices in the local market compared to urban areas, he believes avocado farming can be profitable if fruit drop issues can be addressed.
“If we take it to Thimphu or Phuntshogling, we get Nu 300 per kilogram. But here we only get Nu 150 to 200 per kilogram. I think it will be profitable if the fruit drop issue is addressed.”
With more villagers expressing interest in planting avocado trees, currently, around 27 households own fruiting avocado trees.
“After our mandarin trees died, we shifted our focus to avocado hoping it would benefit us in the future,” said Mindu Gyeltshen.
“Since our mandarin trees died, we are trying avocados. Seeing the fruiting of avocado trees, I think cultivating avocados will be better. I have already sold a few kilograms of avocado here in the village,” said Sonam Wangmo.
The district agriculture sector attributed the death of mandarin trees to citrus disease outbreaks, climate change, and poor orchard management. The agriculture sector is making efforts to revive mandarin cultivation by distributing seedlings.
However, they are also encouraging villagers to diversify and grow other fruit-bearing trees like avocados.
Presently, Gomdar Gewog has more than 5,900 avocado trees, out of which 216 are fruit-bearing.
More than 300 households in Gomdar Gewog have ventured into avocado cultivation.