Orange growers in Zhemgang have a new reason to rejoice. The National Post Harvest Sub-Center at Brumbi has resumed its orange pulp production service. This means oranges which cannot be exported can be used to extract pulp which is being bought by a fruit processing company. The service had been suspended for the past four years after the processing plant was damaged by a fire in 2018.
Oranges that do not meet the export standards can be brought to the food processing plant in Brumbi.
The oranges are washed, peeled and squeezed to extract the pulp all by machine. And all this is provided for free by the centre. It takes about half an hour to extract pulp from one tonne of oranges.
“Our Pulp production is mainly for the rejected oranges and those which cannot be exported,” said Parsu Rai, the Officiating Manager of the National Post-Harvest Sub-Centre. “People can bring their produce here and we process the orange pulp instantly.”
Currently, a farmers’ group from Goling under Namgkor Gewog is availing themselves of the service. The group has so far collected about 5 tonnes of oranges from farmers of five Gewogs.
“We collect the rejected oranges and then bring them here to process orange pulp with the help of the group members and the Post-Harvest Sub-Center Officials,” said Sonam Wangchuk, a member of the farmers’ group.
The group then sells the orange pulp to Bhutan Agro Industries, a fruit and vegetable processing company. The group gets 30 ngultrum for a litre of pulp. The group plans to process about another 15 tonnes of oranges.
Meanwhile, the people say they are able to earn some money from the fruits which they would have otherwise disposed of.
“My oranges are not spoiled or damaged but it was all rejected because it wasn’t plucked properly. Even exporters in Gelephu didn’t accept the fruits, so I brought them here,” said Minjurla, an orange grower from Nangkor.
“It is very beneficial, I came to know about it only this morning. If I take it to Gelephu, it is waste of time and resources. So, I segregated the fruits and brought the smaller ones here,” said an Orange Exporter, Gem Tshering, who came all the way from Haa.
According to the centre, the processing plant can process more than 5 tonnes of pulp in a day. The centre also processes various other food items such as pickles, chips and juices.
Pema Samdrup, Zhemgang
Edited by Yeshi Gyaltshen