Orange Rejuvenation Under Horticulture Mission in India

By Khagendramani Pradhan
PIB India

New Delhi, May 4, 2011 (Washington Bangla Radio) Nearly sixty lakh pieces of hill mandarin/oranges were procured and exported from Sikkim this season to different parts of the country with Kolkata, Bihar and Bangladesh providing a greater share of market. This was apart from the local consumption and those procured by the Government Fruit Preservative Factory and other small scale industry engaged in processing of oranges for different bye-products. Attempts were also made to reach the mandarin orange from Sikkim to global markets through its outlet established in the national capital region of New Delhi.

With SIMFED (Sikkim State Cooperative and Marketing Federation), a State Government subsidiary and NERAMAC (North Eastern Regional Agricultural Marketing Corporation Limited), a Government of India enterprise partnering in procuring and marketing of oranges from Sikkim, the value return that the producers could get has been very much encouraging.

Mandarin orange has been one of the important commercial fruit of Sikkim being cultivated since time immemorial. According to a rough estimate, Sikkim has nearly 6 thousand hectares of area under orange plantation which produces on an average of 1667 kg/hectare.The advent of Horticulture Mission for North East and Himalayan State, a centrally sponsored scheme, rapid area expansion has been initiated with a set target to double the area under orange cultivation. Orange farmers/producers are being provided with financial assistance for maintenance and area expansion of orange orchards.

Apart from the financial assistance, the Department of Horticulture and cash crop, Government of Sikkim, has also been providing the enterprising farmers and producers with planting materials, bio-pesticides and fungicides, tools and equipment, intensive training and exposure visit to National Research Centre for citrus at Nagpur and other progressive farmers’ field. With a remarkable progress made in terms of area expansion and ray of hope coming in the direction of high returns, a number of nurseries have been established for producing healthy and quality planting materials, while tissue culture laboratories in the private sectors has also been supplementing the requirement of quality planting materials. 

The Department of Horticulture and cash crops has also identified areas best suited for area expansion under the mission for rejuvenation of orange cultivation and production. Concentrated focus to provide missing link taking into account the entire gamut for its enhancement has been put to practice. And with the Government declaration of making Sikkim a fully organic state by the year 2015, emphasis is being laid on providing bio-organic input for cultivation and production of this fruit.

It is interesting to note that in the last quarter of the year 2009, Export Import Bank of India (EXIM) had recommended to the State government for rejuvenation of orchards of about 20 years of age, gradual replanting of the older ones, soil reclamation and manuring around the tree and planting of new orchards with saplings from certified nursery that can go a long way in helping to realize the untapped export potential of mandarin orange.The report also had pointed out that processing of mandarin oranges in the form of juices, squash, marmalade and jam is critical as it results in increased shelf life and a far higher per unit value realization. Such processing lends itself to easy transportation thereby facilitating its exports.

The Bank had summed up its study on mandarin orange export potential of Sikkim by concluding that a facility needs to be established for sorting, grading and processing of mandarin oranges and other horticulture products which could be simultaneously used so as to achieve optimal utilization of the unit. This would entail creating an enabling environment for private sector investments in the State, it said.

The Bank also noted in its report that Sikkim is ideally suited to the extension of acreage under orange as the State has favorable topography and climate.The Bank had in its recommendation also called for setting up an autonomous board for mandarin growers which would act as a nodal point for extension work, help in farmer education and work closely with farmers’ cooperatives to improve farm management practices and the quality of farm produce. The board could also help with credit, marketing and information on the market, the bank had suggested.

With all such positive indicators in all the areas of orange cultivation and production, and projected drastic fall in the exports of mandarin oranges from China, it is for sure that with guided policy intervention and development of required infrastructure, Sikkim can initiate to exploit this void in the global market.

(PIB Features)

Disclaimer: The views expressed by the author in this feature are entirely his own and do not necessarily reflect the views of PIB or WBRi.