The incredible citrus genetic diversity that is found in the wild, semi-wild and backyards of Manipur is not found anywhere else in the world. Different strains of rough lemon, mandarin and semi-wild heiribob (Citrus macroptera) are grown across Manipur. Orange is one of the most important horticultural crops of Manipur with Tamenglong district producing more than 80 percent of the total orange production in the state.
Popularly known as the ‘Orange Bowl’, Tamenglong cultivates a unique fruit crop called Tamenglong orange (Citrus reticulata) that is rated as one of the best in the world. This unique species of the mandarin group is famous for its excellent blend of sweetness and acidity. It is estimated that over 40 percent of the land area in this district is under orange cultivation.
Tamenglong district is located at an elevation of 1,290 m above mean sea level and the well-drained fertile soil and climatic conditions prevailing here are suitable for the cultivation of this delicious orange. Tamenglong orange plants are propagated by seed as well as vegetative means though the latter is preferred because it ensures true to type plants, uniform quality, regular and consistent bearing.
This orange is cultivated solely using organic means and farmers do not use chemical fertilizers or pesticides. The crop is harvested immediately after maturity (usually between November to February) to avoid fruit drop, fruit fly infestation, shrinkage and loss of weight. The peel colour is the main factor to ascertain maturity.
Tamenglong oranges are bigger in size as compared to other oranges of the mandarin group. Its average weight is about 233 g. The fruit has about 10 to 14 segments normally which come apart easily and the number of seeds per fruit is less. The rind is smooth, loose and orange in colour.
This orange is known for its sweet-and-sour taste, high juice content of about 45.75 percent and TSS of 11.93 °Bx. The orange is rich in ascorbic acid, Vitamin A and B and phosphorus. This orange is either consumed fresh, in fruit salads and desserts or in the form of juice, jam, squash, jelly, marmalade, wine and syrup. The orange peel exudes essential oils which can be used in the food industry, chemical industry and cosmetic industry.
The annual Tamenglong Orange Festival has been hosted by the state since 2003 to showcase its excellent produce. The festival aims to promote tourism, provide an opportunity to farmers to display their oranges before potential buyers as well as provide the added incentive of encouraging a deeper relationship between the farmers and food processing units.
This orange is much loved both within the state and outside for its juiciness, taste and flavour. Tamenglong orange was granted the Geographical Indication Tag (GI) in 2021.
Written by Lakshmi Subramanian
* Photos are only symbolic (Taken from public domain/internet and any copyright infringement is unintentional and regrettable)
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