…𝒕𝒉𝒆𝒓𝒆 𝒉𝒂𝒔 𝒃𝒆𝒆𝒏 𝒊𝒏𝒄𝒓𝒆𝒂𝒔𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒅𝒆𝒎𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒔𝒆𝒆𝒅 𝒂𝒏𝒅 𝒔𝒆𝒆𝒅𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒏𝒆𝒘𝒍𝒚 𝒊𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒐𝒅𝒖𝒄𝒆𝒅 𝒐𝒓 𝒑𝒓𝒐𝒎𝒐𝒕𝒊𝒐𝒏𝒂𝒍 𝒇𝒓𝒖𝒊𝒕 𝒄𝒓𝒐𝒑𝒔 𝒊𝒏 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒄𝒐𝒖𝒏𝒕𝒓𝒚
World Health Organization (WHO) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) advocates Fruits and Vegetables (F&V) as major sources of fiber in the diet and increased dietary fiber intake significantly reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglyceride levels, systolic blood pressure and thereby prevent non-communicable diseases.
Bhutan produces a wide range of fruits and some nuts. About 38,086 MT of fruits were harvested in 2022, of which, 31,796 MT were major fruits such as apple, mandarin, and areca nut, and 69 MT were newly promoted fruits such as watermelon, kiwi, and dragon fruit.
According to the report of the Integrated Agriculture and Livestock Census of Bhutan 2022, it was stated that Paro, Thimphu, Haa, and Bumthang are dominant apple-producing dzongkhags, while Samtse, Sarpang, and Chhukha dzongkhags are dominant areca nut-producing dzongkhags. Similarly, Dagana, Tsirang, Zhemgang, Pema Gatshel, Samdrup Jongkhar, Monggar, Trashigang, Trashi Yangtse, and Lhuentse are dominant mandarin-growing dzongkhags.
Apple, mandarin, and areca nut are major cash crops among fruit crops grown in the country. Although different varieties of apple are grown in the country, the IALC did not collect information on the varieties. About 2,223 MT of apple were harvested in 2022. This was 101 MT less than in 2021. The per-bearing tree yield of apple was recorded at 19 kg per tree in 2022, 1 kg more than in 2021. Major apple-producing dzongkhags – Paro harvested 1,558 MT (more 47 MT than in 2021), and Thimphu harvested 465 MT (less 112 MT than in 2021) in 2022.
In terms of the yield per bearing tree, Paro recorded 22 kg (more 5 kg than in 2021), and Thimphu recorded 12 kg (less 8 kg than in 2021). The lower level of apple production in 2022 was due to a reduction in bearing trees to 119,688 (less 14,316 trees than in 2021). Thimphu dzongkhag alone reported 9,231 reductions in the bearing trees, about two-thirds of the total reductions. The number of apple growers stands at 7,390 households in 2022, compared to 5,262 households in 2021.
Bhutan exports areca nut to India during the peak season and imports from India during the lean season, often in equal or greater quantities. Chewing doma pani is an integral part of our culture, and enhancing production to meet domestic demand has become even more important. About 11,106 MT of areca nut was harvested in 2022. This was 10,271 MT less, equivalent to 52 percent less than in 2021. The per-bearing tree yield of areca nut was recorded at 8 kg per tree in 2022, 4 kg less than in 2021. Major areca nut-producing dzongkhags – Samtse harvested 3,630 MT (less 7,763 MT than in 2021), Sarpang harvested 4,853 MT (less 1,497 MT than in 2021), and Samdrup Jongkhar harvested 689 MT (less 916 MT than in 2021) in 2022. In terms of the yield per bearing tree, Samtse recorded 8 kg (less 8 kg than in 2021), Sarpang recorded 8 kg (less 1 kg than in 2021), and Samdrup Jongkhar recorded 10 kg (less 6 kg than in 2021) in 2022.
The lower level of areca nut production at the national level in 2022 was due to a decrease in the number of bearing trees to 1,415,779 (less 377,473 trees than in 2021). Samtse dzongkhag alone reported 292,563 decreases in the number of bearing trees, accounting for more than three-fourths of the total reduction. Dagana and Sarpang dzongkhags reported, respectively, 26,188 and 95,853 decreases in the number of bearing trees compared to 2021. The number of growers barely increased from 11,355 households in 2021 to 11,357 households in 2022.
Mandarin is one of the country’s largest fresh fruit exports to India and Bangladesh, contributing to the economy by generating export revenue. Although the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has been providing necessary support to mandarin growers in terms of orchard management, diversification of varieties based on different agro-ecological zones, and development of processing and nurseries, growers are still facing many constraints. For example, the production of mandarin is experiencing decline due to climate change impacts, more so due to increased pest and disease outbreaks, drought, erratic rainfall, and limited knowledge of farm management.
About 18,467 MT of mandarin were harvested in 2022. This was 2,500 MT more than in 2021. In terms of the per-bearing tree yield of mandarin, it was recorded at 26 kg per tree in 2022, 6 kg more than in 2021. Major mandarin-producing dzongkhags – Dagana harvested 3,487 MT (more 695 MT than in 2021), Samdrup Jongkhar harvested 2,638 MT (more 260 MT than in 2021), and Tsirang harvested 3,056 MT (more 908 MT than in 2021) in 2022.
In terms of the yield per bearing tree, Dagana recorded 27 kg (more 6 kg than in 2021), Samdrup Jongkhar recorded 28 kg (more 5 kg than in 2021), and Tsirang recorded 43 kg (more 14 kg than in 2021). The higher level of mandarin production in 2022 was due to a high per-bearing yield of 26 kg in 2022 (more 6 kg than in 2021). Furthermore, the number of mandarin growers increased in 2022 from 21,904 in 2021 to 23,817 households.
There has been increasing demand for seed and seedlings for newly introduced or promotional fruit crops in the country. Cultivation of watermelon, kiwi, and dragon fruits is picking up, and mass cultivations are happening in many dzongkhags. For example, commercial watermelon plantations and nurseries already exist in a few dzongkhags like Zhemgang, Samtse, Trashigang, and Pema Gatshel.
About 94 MT of watermelon was harvested in 2022. This was 62 MT less than in 2021. The per-acre yield of watermelon was recorded at 2,397 kg in 2022, 216 kg less than in 2021. Major watermelon-producing dzongkhags – Zhemgang harvested 48 MT (less 7 MT than in 2021), Samtse harvested 10 MT, Trashigang harvested 17 MT (less 4 MT than in 2021), Tsirang harvested 5 MT (less
2 MT than in 2021), and Monggar harvested 3 MT (less 4 MT than in 2021) in 2022. About 46 acres of the area were reported by the growers under watermelon cultivation. This was 21 acres less than in 2021. From the total, Zhemgang, Samtse, and Trashigang accounted for about three-fourths of the total area under watermelon cultivation in the country.
About 4 MT of dragon fruit was harvested in 2022. This was an increase of 3 MT from 2020. The per-bearing tree yield of dragon fruit was recorded at 4 kg in 2022, 1 kg more than in 2021. Not many dzongkhags reported growing dragon fruits in 2022. Of those reported, Wangdue Phodrang and Monggar dzongkhags accounted for the larger share of the production in 2022.
The country recorded 26 MT of kiwi production in 2022. This was 25 MT less than in 2021. Tsirang, Dagana, and Chhukha dzongkhags reported more than 50 percent of the total kiwi production in 2022.