Alipurduar: With a view to make people in the Buxa Hills in Alipurduar district self-reliant, the Bengal Government’s Panchayat and Rural Development Department has taken up a scheme to train them in orange cultivation. Around 22,557 high yielding saplings have been distributed among 309 selected families.
The money to look after the saplings will be taken from the funds available under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) Scheme.
To implement the scheme and maintain the saplings in the first year, every family got 55 days’ work and in the second and third year, they will get 20 days’ work. The trees will start bearing fruits from the end of third year, about 40 to 50 oranges per tree; from the fifth year each tree will yield 200 to 500 oranges. Every family will be able to earn anywhere between Rs 40,000 to Rs 50,000 per year.
Before the commencement of the scheme, every family was given training by the district administration. The district administration took up the scheme to produce the Mandarin variety of oranges. In the first year, the families were given training in planting the saplings and nurturing them. A sum of Rs 11.35 lakh was allotted under MGNREGA.
Though qualitatively, oranges from the Buxa region are better than their counterparts in other areas of north Bengal, over the last few years, production has taken a hit due to crop disease.
Therefore, the Rural Development Department has taken this initiative to train farmers to produce better quality fruits and hence, enhance their economic condition considerably.