Gangtok, Sikkim

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Virus hits Darjeeling orange output

Darjeeling orange
Tue, Dec 4, 2018

PRASHANT ACHARYA

SILIGURI: The production of mandarin orange in the Darjeeling hills have fallen by about 50 to 60 percent due to pest attack and fungal infection.
The pest and fungal attacks have resulted in the death of a number of fruit-bearing trees in the orange orchards of Sitong and Mirik. The orange sizes have also become smaller compared to previous years because of which farmers are worried that fruits will not fetch good prices in the Siliguri market.
The oranges, which used to fetch Rs 100 or Rs 120 per dozen, are now selling for less than Rs 50 per dozen.
“Compared to previous years, the sizes of the oranges have become smaller and the production has also come down. We could hardly sell any fruit this year,” said P. K. Sampang, the owner of an orchard at Thurboo near Mirik.
Sunil Gurung, another orchard owner in Mirik busty, echoed Sampang and said fungal and pest attacks coupled with lack of government support to the growers have taken a heavy toll on the production.  
Darjeeling’s sweet and succulent winter treat is increasingly becoming a rarity.  
The oranges are grown in about 4000 acres in the hills, including Sivitar, Munda, Manju, Mirik busty, Magarjung, Ambotia, Sitong and Ghayabari, among other places.


Area: 7096 Sq Km
Capital:Gangtok
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Climate:
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min- 13°C
Winter: Max- 13°C ; Min- 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
Language Spoken: Nepali, Bhutia, Lepcha, Tibetan, English, Hindi