Agartala: With an aim to revive the orange cultivation in Jampui Hills, the Tripura government has initiated re-plantation of orange plants in the highest peak of the state located in North Tripura district, said agriculture minister Pranajit Singha Roy on Wednesday.
Speaking at a press conference, Roy said, “The production of orange in the Jampui hills is lost and even though the productivity is still on in other places of the state, the taste cannot match with those of the Jampui Hills.”
The productivity of orange plants has come down in Jampui Hills and the areas under cultivation have also shrunk as fruit farmers have turned to other cash crops like coffee, areca nuts, and ginger.
Agriculture director DP Roy said that due to the outbreak of dieback, powdery mildew and anthracnose diseases in the orange trees, the farmers had shifted to the plantation of areca nuts and coffee in hills.
The disease spreads through the air but can be cured with support from the farmers. They need to apply enough spray from upper to the lower villages so that the disease does not spread in the air, Roy said.
Speaking further, minister Roy said that the agriculture department has started growing oranges in Baramura hill range in West Tripura district to expand its production in the state.
“We are now looking for vacant lands to expand the cultivation of oranges in the state. We also have a plus point which is the climatic condition. For the first time, orange was grown in over 500 hectares of lands in Baramura hill range in West Tripura district and over 1,000 metric tons of oranges have already been sold,” Roy added.
He also said that 354 families are currently engaged in cultivating orange at the Baramura hill range.
“Around 354 families are engaged with orange cultivation in Jampui Hills and the state government had provided financial support to 200 families. Each family has received a sum of Rs 15, 000. Around 80,000 oranges are being produced in one hectare of land and in 500 hectares of land 40,000,000 pieces of oranges would be grown this time in Baramura,” Roy added.
Jampui Hills, known as the highest hill range of the state, is located in North Tripura district — about 205 km from state capital Agartala.
The cultivation of oranges in Jampui Hills was started in late 1960s and soon it caught on. It gained widespread adoption after the oranges won several awards during fruit exhibitions outside the state, particularly in New Delhi, during the mid-1980s. Not surprisingly, people living across the hill started adopting orange cultivation on a bigger scale.
Earlier as reported by Eastmojo, S Molsom (45), a farmer, said that they then found a good alternative in areca nuts.
“Earlier, we used to cultivate oranges in the Jampui Hills and the profit after selling it in the market was quite less. But now, since we are cultivating areca nuts, the margin and profit rate is almost double than what it was during orange cultivation,” Molsom said.
Around 400 families are now engaged in the cultivation of areca nuts. A farmer who could earn around Rs 60,000 by selling oranges cultivated in one hectare of land, now earns at least Rs 1.5 lakh every year by cultivating areca nuts.