Remote Rural Communities Development Project (RRCDP) to the rescue of Cardamom and Citrus Industry in Bhutan

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Citrus seedlings at the newly constructed propagation house

Citrus (mandarin orange as commonly called) and cardamom are two top export cash crops that contribute substantially to Bhutanese GDP. These two commodities featured as the top 9th and 10th export items for Bhutan in the Bhutan Trade Statistics 2012 earning Nu. 452.63 million and Nu. 424.68 million respectively.

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Cardamom seedlings being raised in the newly constructed propagation house

However, over the last decade or so, the industry has been hit by diseases; Citrus greening or HLB and Cardamom wilt & blight disease causing considerable damage and loss to the horticulture industry. The only way to cope with these diseases, was to get rid of the existing diseased stocks and replace it with disease free plants. It was, however, difficult to get disease free planting materials in want of adequate propagation houses.

To the respite of this problem, RRCDP project, a World Bank loan project at MoAF has supported construction of propagation houses and supply of disease free grafted citrus seedlings and disease free cardamom seedlings. The project has already constructed seven cardamom propagation houses and a citrus propagation house at the National Seed Centre, Bhur. The cardamom propagation houses were constructed at a cost of Nu. 10,530,132.19 while the citrus propagation house was constructed at a cost of Nu. 9,574,123.88.

Cardamom seedlings propagation houses at NSC Bhur
Cardamom seedlings propagation houses at NSC Bhur

Propagation of the planting materials has already started in the newly constructed propagation houses. The benefit of these propagation houses would extend beyond the project areas. From 2015 onwards, an estimated 60,000 numbers of citrus grafts and 252,000 numbers of cardamom seedlings will be available for sale on a yearly basis at the National Seed Centre, Bhur. This will benefit the citrus and cardamom growers as well as the nation in reviving the cash crop industry and in generating much needed revenue.

Rehabilitation of the diseased orchards and plantations are also a priority activity for the Department of Agriculture in the 11th Five Year Plan.

Reported by Project Management, RRCDP, MoAF. For details contact: Ugyen Dorji, Component Manger (Agriculture) –Ugyen Dorji [ugdorji@gmail.com] or Project Director, Kuenga Namgay [kuenga007@gmail.com]

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