Over the past decade, Bhutan's horticulture sector has faced escalating challenges, marked by a notable decline in fruit yields due to diseases and pests. Key cash crops, notably oranges and apples, have seen production drops exceeding 50% between 2012 and 2022.

In 2012, Bhutan boasted 306,181 apple trees, of which 243,967 were bearing fruit, yielding 7,666 metric tonnes (MT) of apples. Fast forward to 2022, the number of apple trees decreased to 175,331, with 119,688 bearing fruit, and production plummeted to 2,222.94 MT, as per agricultural statistics.

The yield per tree also saw a significant decline, dropping from 31.42kg per tree in 2012 to 18.6kg per tree in 2022.

Agricultural officers attribute this decline in horticultural production to climate change. They cite woolly aphids, brown rot, collar rots, and apple scab diseases as prevalent issues across apple-growing districts in the north.

"Fruits are particularly vulnerable to climate change due to their longer establishment duration," explains an agriculture officer. "With climate change, Bhutan is witnessing more frequent extreme weather events, resulting in widespread crop damage and livelihood disruptions."

The officer highlights how global warming has significantly impacted the chilling requirement of temperature-sensitive fruits like apples. "Studies indicate a projected decline in winter chill, crucial for many fruits and nuts grown in temperate regions."

Source: www.nationthailand.com