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Bhutan: Mandarin crop destroyedThis winter, farmers of Khothakpa, Pemagatshel, did not have any mandarin to sell.
The reason being that their trees are almost all dead or dying. The leaves are yellow and the roots are exposed. Farmers say that this has been caused by dust emanating from nearby gypsum mines.
Choden, 55, earned not less than Nu 40,000 ($777US) a year selling oranges a few years ago. "Every year the yield kept dropping, and this year there was no yield at all" she said, adding that only the dry branches and stem of orange trees are left in their orchard.
A shopkeeper in Khothakpa bazaar, Thinley Wangdi, said that the dust from the mining site, especially in the evening when a wind blows, fills the shop with a layer of dust.
However, the mine's chief executive officer, Lethro, said orange trees dying was not because of mining alone.
"Agriculture officials said that it was also because of a natural citrus disease that has been killing orange orchards in the south," he said. "But I can’t completely ignore the complaints of farmers, nor can I blame mining for it."
The disease he refers to is citrus greening, which has been rife in the area.
Pemagatshel dzongkhag agriculture officer Kiran Suberi said "We’ve formed groups for growing vegetables. We can’t exactly tell the figure, but the number of fruit bearing trees in Khotakpa have reduced significantly over the years."
Publication date: 4/11/2012
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