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Single storied house has 3 Bedrooms,
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3 Jan 2017

DARJEELING ORANGES DECLINING IN QUALITY AND QUANTITY.... Lost glory of the Hills

SNS, Kurseong 2 January 2017: The Darjeeling orange and its industry have lost their glory in the Hills, compared to earlier times, due to massive modernisation. Now there is not a single group of farmers dedi-cated to orange cultivation in the Hills, who can pursue orange cultivation with the help of horticulture department as a lifelong source of sustenance. But, once upon a time, after Darjeeling tea it was orange that was another identity of Darjeeling Hills.
The Darjeeling oranges are still grown in the rocky soils of the Hills and a huge quantity of quality suntala (orange) is produced at the end of every calendar year, but, significantly, production is less than previous records.
The villages in and around Kurseong sub division like Sivitar, Munda, Manju Kaman, Mirik, Mangarjung, Cafebari, Ambootia-Basseri, Targaon, Bansghari, Marina still nurture the orange trade and earn their livelihood through it besides cultivating various other agricultural produces.
However, for example, Ambootia in Kurseong that was one of the centres of the flourishing orange trade, has sadly lost its cultivating areas and as a result the pro-duction has declined and the quality of the fruit, both in size and taste, has deteriorated. A local said that many orange plants were found are growing wild in Ambootia due to a lack of proper management or cultivation.
Although the climatic condition is great for oranges but its production has dropped, which is a cause of concern. As well, its juicy sweet taste has also been lost, he added.
They enjoyed the Ambootia oranges till the end of the 1980's after which it slowly declined in numbers and quality.
He also added that during 70's and 80's people used to earn a minimum of Rs 25,000 and above Rs 50,000 selling oranges. People used to skip tea plantation work during the harvesting season from October to December every year.
Due to its abundance they as well as even their cattle ate oranges through these months.
After sometime even these animals refused to eat the orange fodder.
According to agriculture experts and growers, the decline in production and quality is due to the loss of fertility in the soil, menace of worms and insects as well as water scarcity.
The present trend of global warming and as well as modernisation are some of the reasons behind poor quality production of oranges, locals said. "These problems can be resolved by applying modern and scientific methods but people do not have time and inter-est, due to alternative means of earning livelihood like 100-days job scheme and other construction works like roads and buildings. This is a major threat for orange cultivation in Darjeeling Hills," a local resident said.









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