Gangtok, 02 Sept:
Under the aegis of Integrated Mountain Initiative [IMI], IMI Sikkim Chapter facilitated by Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Sikkim [ECOSS] organised ‘Apple-Orange Thinkshop’ at the ECOSS office in Tadong on 01 Sept. The meeting was chaired by Lok Sabha MP, PD Rai, and co-chaired by Associate Professor & Head of Horticulture Department, Sikkim University, Dr Laxuman Sharma, a press release informs.
The programme was attended by representatives from Sikkim University, ICAR-NOFRI Sikkim, NABARD, Horticulture & Cash Crops Development Department, KVK, FS& AD, Zilla and Gram Panchayats, farmers, retired officials and apple & orange growers and farming enthusiasts.
The main objectives of the programme were to share and trace the history of apples and oranges which were previously major cash crops in the State with a view to identify the causes of decline and change in their cultivation and identify the challenges and strategies for their revival.
The meeting discussed the ground realities, issues surrounding their cultivation, current policies and practices and explored various solutions through the findings of research and academia.
The participants shared their experiences on field as growers and as department officials. The thinkshop brought forth anecdotes and insights with inputs of best practices from different perspectives of farmers, the Horticulture Department, academia and included experiences from outside the State such as the NABARD Wadi Project approach.
Retired Chief Secretary, KC Pradhan, shared his knowledge with regard to apple and orange cultivation in Sikkim.
The release informs that apple cultivation had declined from the 1980s with the introduction of weedicides and chemical fertilisers, possible infected new species and the onset of diseases such as apple scab and pests like the wooly aphid. Natural disasters had also contributed to loss of the apple trees in Lachung. With regard to oranges, the factors of decline included lack of moisture during winters, insufficient manuring, bad managerial practices, climate change, hailstorm damage, pests and diseases such as fruit drop, fruit fly, stem borer, citrus die back, citrus psylla, citrus greening, etc.
In his concluding address, Lok Sabha MP, Mr Rai, said, “Today, there is a need to realize that the new-age farmer has growing needs, different expectations and generally smaller landholdings. There is a need to focus the research on local problems while converging on a more natural and holistic growth of the orchards in the State.”
He also stressed on taking lessons from history, culture and traditions as these form a basis to build better local solutions.