This season, Tinsukia can bask in the oranges the farmers of the district have harvested. “The figure is an all-time high”, said Dilip Pujari, a senior official of the Tinsukia agricultural marketing division. The district has recorded the highest production in the state with nearly 72,600 metric tonnes of oranges, which is almost 2,000 metric tonnes more than last year.
At a time when Tinsukia was in the news for the attacks on Hindi-speaking people and a series of bomb blasts, the residents of remote villages were busy cultivating oranges. More than 90 per cent of the farmers in the district are from the Moran and Motak community. Orange cultivation began in this part of Assam during the reign of the Motak king Sarbananda Singha. Citrus orchards “had taken a backseat because of tea cultivation in the last decade, but the farmers are back with a bang,”said S. Hussain, a scientist at the citrus research station in Tinsukia. The unit, a branch of the Assam Agricultural University, took the initiative three years ago to revive the declining orange cultivation.
Subsequently, a scheme was launched to rejuvenate orange cultivation under the technology mission. “Old trees were uprooted and saplings were planted. This year, their efforts have worked magic. The plants bore plenty of fruits”, Hussain said.
Many new areas have now come under orange cultivation, replacing tea gardens. Nearly three years ago, a godown was set up at Napuikhuri.
“The farmers bring their produce to the godown. These are subsequently transported across the state as well as outside”, Pujari said. However, Biseswar Baruah, a farmer from the Makum area, rued that they were getting the old price of only 80 paise per orange, whereas in Tinsukia town, the same was sold at Rs 2.