Jampui Hills orange production badly affected

December 5th, 2008 - 8:32 pm ICT by ANI  

By Pinaki Das
Phuljangshai (Jampui Hills), Dec.5 (ANI): Jampui Hills, popularly known as the orange producing valley, has witnessed a drastic reduction in orange production following the spread of a peculiar disease, which scientists describe as dieback.
Jampui Hills is in the tri-junction of the northeast India along Tripura-Mizoram and Chittangong Hill Track (CHT) of Bangladesh border.
Of the total 3,000 hectares area under orange cultivation in Tripura, the Jampui Hill alone has around 2007 hectares devoted to orange production and hence it is justifiably regarded as the orange bowl of Tripura.
In Tripura, the overall orange production has increased by about six per cent this year. But in Jampui Hills, the production has gone down by more than 50 percent,.
At present, only three of the 10 hills have orange production. The economy of the region, which is dependent on oranges, has been badly affected, as trees in most of the orchards that are more than half-a-century old have been wiped out following the spread of dieback disease.
Rami Roita, one orchard owner, said: For the last few years Jampui’’s orange production has gone down due to attack of some disease. Most the gardens in the northern side towards Vangmung have been affected. ” Zawa Raima, an orchard worker, said: Earlier, we had good orange production but now our gardens are in bad condition, as trees have died due to some disease. Also there are a large number of rats in Jampui which destroy our crops of ”Jhum”.”
The oranges from Jampui Hills have been known for their sweet taste. Every year during December-January, an Orange festival used to be organized here. But today it is just sweet memory for the people.
Many residents here call dieback disease as Chander.
Abdul Sattar, a businessman, said: This year the production was not so bad but due to cyclone huge quantity of crop was spoiled. Again due to attack of pest, locally called ”Chander” this year the orange cultivation faced huge losses. If the situation continues like this, we will have to give up this business. The crop which cost us rupees 50,000 is giving us returns of just 15,000. “Earlier, we use to get over 500 trucks of oranges from the Jampui Hill but the production gradually started reducing from 1991. Now we hardly get only just 40 to 50 trucks. Of the 10 hills now there are fruits in only three hills. Because of the disease in the orchards most of the trees have died. Government has failed to do anything for the orange gardens, said Tabai Mian, a garden worker.
Meanwhile, the State government had sought help from the National Research Centre for Citrus (NRCC), Nagpur.
Dr. Shibnarayan Sen, Director for Agriculture, Horticulture and Soil Conservation said, “We have taken lots of initiative to rejuvenate the orange production in Jampui hill but there is a basic problem that the plants are very old and new tree that have been planted give production only after five years. Due to lack of water at such high, it is difficult to spray the medicine (sulpher). The department is making arrangement for water tanks.”
People feel that it may take at least another five years to get sweet oranges of Jampui hills once again. (ANI)

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