A nationwide citrus canopy management campaign that began since 31 December 2018 has been successfully completed. The campaigns were conducted in major citrus growing districts lead by Agriculture Research and Development Centre- Bajo, in collaboration with other ARDCs, districts and gewog extension centres, with fund support from Rural Development and Climate Change Response Programme (RDCCRP).
The canopy management campaign alongwith hands-on-training for extensions and farmers were conducted in Gakiling, Deikiling and Gelephug Gewog under Sarpang Dzongkhag; 3 sites in Tsangkha, 1 site each in Drujeygang, Khebesa, Tashiding, Goshi and Tshendeygang Gewog under Dagana Dzongkhag; Logchina Gewog under Chukha Dzongkhag; Trong Gewog under Zhemgang Dzongkhag; Dophuchen and Pemaling Gewog under Samtse; and Norbugang Gewog under Pemagatshel Dzongkhag.
In Logchina, the program was graced by Dasho Dzongdag, Chukha Dzongkhag Administration; Director, Department of Agriculture, Chief Agriculture Officer, ARED and other officials of the department. In Dophuchen, the program was graced by Dasho Dungpa, Dorokha Dungkhag Administration. The gups and other officials of the geogs also attended the programs in their respective gewogs.
In total, 16 orchard sites were covered with demonstration on canopy, nutrient and irrigation management technologies to the farmers. In terms of number of citrus trees, the campaign covered 1908 trees with more than 1731 farmers attending the program that included educating them on the importance of orchard management practices, followed by hands-on-training on canopy management. For water management in water scarce areas, construction of plastic-lined water harvesting tanks of capacity 27000 liters were demonstrated to the citrus farming communities to help them supplement irrigation during dry seasons. Plastic- lined water tanks were constructed in Pelrithang (Gelephug Geog), Tama (Trong Geog), and Lumby (Dophuchen Geog). Demonstration on development of trenches for integrated water and nutrient management for individual trees were also made followed by training of farmers on the use of fertilizers and manures. As part of canopy management campaign; 228 numbers of trees were top-worked with high-health status budwoods of citrus varieties: Okitsu wase, Tarku, Dorokha local and Bearss lime. These were aimed at illustrating techniques of reworking trees with better varieties, replace existing varieties, or to diversify citrus varieties for different market purposes. Follow-up on new shoots thinning and after care of new growths will be carried out through training programs in the coming months of May & June. Apart from orchard management technology demonstration, the orchards under canopy management will also serve as the research sites to study the canopy management impacts and on long-term management practices. From the coming years, the citrus program will also initiate area-wide canopy management in major citrus decline areas in the country.
The department has also drafted the “Citrus Rehabilitation Strategy” to guide dzongkhags and geogs to undertake citrus rehabilitation program during the 12 FYP and beyond. The strategy outlines the adoption of rehabilitation modalities while also emphasising the need for climate smart integrated nutrient, water and pests management. The department will be distributing copies of “Technical Guide on Canopy Management”, “Technical Guide on Plastic-Lined Water Harvesting Tank Construction”, posters of Phenological Stages of Citrus and audio-visual document on seasonal based management of citrus orchards – all aimed at providing required technical guidelines to extension and farmers.
-Submitted by Jigme Tenzin, National Citrus Program
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