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Darjeeling's oranges are loosing their sweetness

West Bengal's Darjeeling district is known for its scenic beauty, tea gardens and cool surroundings.

india Updated: Dec 16, 2005 20:28 IST

West Bengal's Darjeeling district is known for its scenic beauty, tea gardens and cool surroundings.

Equally popular are its oranges, which are exported to many countries. But exporters of oranges based in Siliguri are an unhappy lot because of the low produce of the citrus fruit this season and the high export duties.

Exporters believe that pests, low rainfall and few other factors have caused this. Compared to Nagpur, the exporters say the production is less than expected. And the absence of any help cooperation from the Government has just added to their woes.

" Fruits are less this time because of low rainfall. There is no support from the government. No cooperation from any governmental organization. This time the production and the rate, both are not good. The Darjeeling orange is very famous, and even then it is not given its due rate," says Bijay Kumar, an orange businessman.

The exporters are hopeful that the rates may go up and the production may increase in the later part of this winter season and bring a good time for them. The Oranges produced here are especially famous in neighboring countries like Bangladesh and Nepal. But the business community faces a tough competition in selling its goods due to lack of concern shown by the Government.

"Most of the produce here is exported. Our export duty is 100 percent. Our orange goes to Bangladesh, where even Bhutan sends oranges, but their duty is 50 percent, whereas ours is 100 percent, therefore the sale is less", says Sameer Datta, an Orange exporter.

"I deal in other fruits also, but Darjeeling oranges are in great demand in Bangladesh. I come here every year for these oranges" says Abdul Afzal an importer from Bangladesh.

First Published: Dec 16, 2005 20:28 IST