Sweet, fragrant, juicy oranges fill up the landscape of Dambuk, about 30 km from the district capital Roing of the Lower Dibang Valley district in Arunachal Pradesh. Also called the orange bowl of the state, Dambuk is well on its way to international fame for producing some of the best oranges in the country.
An Orange Glow
If you are in Dambuk during mid-winter, you will see national highway 13 hemmed in by a chain of stalls filled to the brim with oranges to sell. Some of the locals set up a store on the ground itself, and the product sells fast and furious. Towards the end of 2022, the Dambuk orange was exported, for the first time, to the markets on the middle-eastern shores of the world. Most of the Khasi-Mandarin species of orange that grows here are exported, as farmers auction their orchards to larger groups/chain-of-stores/companies, who then supply it to the world. The best time to taste the top-quality Dambuk oranges is December, and such is the harvest that entire families pitch in to sell the portion of the harvest not packed for export. December is also when the annual Orange Festival of Adventure and Music takes place, as it has been happening since 2014.
In The Beginning
Oranges were introduced to Dambuk in the 1970s by a local farmer, Pankeng Pertin. The sub-Himalayan weather proved ideal for the saplings, and soon they were sprouting bright orange fruit. The once-sceptical locals were turned believers once they saw Pertin literally reaping gold from his venture. Since then, Dambuk valley has become home to vast hectares devoted to orange orchards. As a matter of fact, the family of Pertin is still in this business.
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Renew And Realise
Recently it has been reported that the quality of the Dambuk oranges is falling, and this is caused by excessive monoculture. Planting too many trees of the same species may have led to soil degradation, thereby producing inferior-quality fruit. However, corrective measures have already been taken by way of providing technical know-how about soil improvement, the life cycle of the orange trees, alternative crops such as that of the kiwi fruit, and setting up of research centres in the orange growing region, and substitute methods of growing the oranges, such as organic oranges. These were exported last year for the first time.
How to Get There
By air: Tezu airport in the Lohit district is 61 kilometres from Roing. The Pasighat airport is 94.7 kilometres, and the Dibrugarh airport in Mohanbari is 143 kilometres away. A chopper service is available between Nahalagun-Pasighat-Mohanbari-Roing. You can avail of cabs at the airports to reach Dambuk.
By rail: The nearest railway station is the New Tinsukia Junction, 102 kilometres from Roing. There is a regular flow of buses and cabs from Tinsukia to Roing.
By road: Roing is well-connected with its neighbouring towns and those in the state of Assam. All-day bus services are available from Roing to Tinsukia, Guwahati, Siliguri and Itanagar. You can also hire a taxi for sightseeing and travelling to Tezu, Dambuk, Anini, Pasighat, etc.
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