Google “apple” and it’s the technology company that fills up the computer screen, the icon, latest products and services they provide and videos of them. Ironic that one has to attach “fruit” to the word.
Associate the word with Bhutan on the search tab and, for now fortunately, the fruit appears, bashful from near loss of identity and the unwarranted representation of it in biblical references and numerous western folklores.
‘tis the season of the fruit in Bhutan and the first of the lot that will be picked, not off the floor, is considered sacred, fit only for offering to the god and the deities that reside in various monasteries of the country and high altars of many homes. A good reap attributed to the divine intervention and intervention sought more.
From the same lot reserved for the god, offerings also go to the country’s royalty the embodiment of nation’s sovereignty.
That has been a tradition in the past, one that continues to this day, albeit rather on the declivity.
The many orchards the country was known for once, one of the indices to measure a family’s wealth, is giving way to urbanisation.
More orchards by the day are being cleared to make way for buildings.To have an orchard and tend to it until it fruits meant engaging someone full time. It was then about picking the fruit, hiring trucks, taking them to the nearest port of sale for export and waiting for returns, which often proved uncertain, driven by market forces, year in, year out, every season. The fruit is perishable.
Today, that kind of dedicated hand to tend to an apple orchard is proving difficult in the face of other better opportunities as the country progresses. It makes better sense to use the same land to build rental, or commercial houses, the demands for which have spiraled and returns proving unseasonally constant, stable and, no doubt, superior.
Apple production and subsequently its export, a quick survey officials of the agriculture ministry conducted, showed a significant drop in the recent years. Besides competition in the market, their findings pointed to, “rapid urbanisation”.
Bhutan mainly exports apple to India and Bangladesh.
Agriculturalists fear that, like many produces of the land, the country’s economies of scale forbids this biblically forbidden fruit to flourish.