By: Dr. T M Chanu

Asstt Professor, College of Horticulture and Forestry, Pasighat, Arunachal Pradesh

The northeastern region of India is blessed with a diverse range of flora and fauna due to its unique geographical and climatic conditions. One of the most popular fruit crops grown in this region is oranges. 

The North Eastern states of India, known for their lush green landscapes and rich biodiversity, are emerging as a promising region for orange cultivation. With favorable agro-climatic conditions, abundant rainfall, and fertile soil, orange cultivation in Northeastern states is very prominent and gradually becoming a new frontier for orange farming in the country.

The northeastern region comprises of seven states – Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Tripura. These states have different agro-climatic conditions, and therefore, the cultivation practices for oranges may vary slightly. The cultivation of oranges in the North Eastern states has not only brought economic benefits to the farmers but has also contributed to the overall development of the region.

One of the key states leading the way in orange cultivation in the North East is Nagaland. The state has witnessed a steady increase in orange farming over the years, and farmers are reaping the benefits of this citrus fruit. The districts of Mon, Tuensang, and Longleng in Nagaland are known for their orange orchards that stretch across the picturesque landscape of the state. The oranges grown in Nagaland are of the Kinnow and Mandarin varieties, known for their juicy pulp and tangy flavor.

Similarly, the state of Meghalaya has also shown immense potential in orange cultivation. The districts of Jaintia Hills and Ri-Bhoi are notable orange-growing regions in Meghalaya. The oranges grown in Meghalaya are predominantly of the Mandarin variety and are highly sought after in the local markets as well as in neighbouring states.

The cultivation of oranges in the North Eastern states has not only provided farmers with a sustainable source of income but has also created employment opportunities for the local communities. Orange farming has become a major source of livelihood for many small and marginal farmers in the region. It has not only improved their economic condition but has also empowered them to become self-reliant and contribute to the economic growth of the region.

Climate requirement: In general, oranges are grown in areas with a tropical or subtropical climate, with average temperatures ranging between 15-30°C. The soil should be well-drained, rich in organic matter, and have a pH range of 5.5-7.5.

Varieties of Orange Cultivated in Northeastern States :In the northeastern region of India, three types of oranges are commonly cultivated – the Nagpur Orange, Kinnow Orange, and Mandarin Orange.

Nagpur oranges are grown mainly in Assam and Nagaland. These oranges are sweet, juicy, and have a thin skin that is easy to peel. Nagpur oranges are also known for their high juice content, making them ideal for juice extraction.

Kinnow oranges are mostly cultivated in Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura. These oranges are large, juicy, and have a sweet and tangy flavor. Kinnow oranges are a hybrid of mandarin and sweet orange and are rich in vitamin C.

Mandarin oranges are grown in all the northeastern states. These oranges are small, sweet, and easy to peel. They are popularly known as Khasi Mandarin, Nagaland Mandarin, and Mizo Mandarin, depending on the state in which they are grown.

Orange Cultivation Practices

The cultivation of oranges in the northeastern region follows similar practices to those of other citrus fruits. The following are some of the best practices for orange cultivation in the northeast:

Selection of Site: The site for orange cultivation should be selected based on the availability of water, soil quality, and access to markets.

Land Preparation: The land should be prepared well in advance by clearing the weeds, rocks, and debris. The soil should be ploughed, harrowed, and leveled.

Planting: Orange trees should be planted during the rainy season in June-July. The spacing between the trees should be 6-8 meters.

Irrigation: Orange trees need regular watering, especially during the dry season. Drip irrigation is the most efficient method of irrigation.

Fertilization: The orange trees should be fertilized with organic manure and inorganic fertilizers in a balanced ratio. The application of fertilizers should be done during the rainy season.

Pest and Disease Management: Orange trees are susceptible to pests and diseases such as citrus leaf miner, fruit flies, and powdery mildew. The use of bio-pesticides and fungicides is recommended to control these pests and diseases.

Harvesting and Post-Harvest Practices

Orange trees start bearing fruits after 3-4 years of planting. Oranges should be harvested when they are fully mature and have developed the characteristic color and flavor. The harvesting season for oranges in the northeast is from December to February.

After harvesting, oranges should be sorted, graded, and packed carefully to prevent damage during transportation. Proper post-harvest practices like washing, waxing, and storage in cool temperatures can help in maintaining the quality and shelf-life of oranges.

Conclusion: The cultivation of oranges in the North Eastern states of India has shown great promise and has become a significant contributor to the agricultural landscape of the region. With favorable agro-climatic conditions, government support, and market demand, orange farming has become a viable and sustainable option for small and marginal farmers.

It has not only improved the economic condition of farmers but has also contributed to the overall development of the region. The oranges from the region are not only consumed locally but are also being transported to other parts of India and even exported to international markets.

The unique taste, high nutritional value, and organic cultivation practices have made oranges from the North Eastern states a preferred choice among health-conscious consumers.

However, there are some challenges that orange farmers in the North Eastern states face. Lack of proper infrastructure, including transportation and storage facilities, is a major hindrance in getting their produce to the market in a timely manner. Additionally, pest and disease management remains a constant concern for farmers, requiring proper training and access to quality inputs.

Previous articleHow to Grow Avocados for Profit: A Comprehensive Guide to Avocado Farming
Next articleProspectus and Status of Organic farming in North East India