The Green Tangerines or Gik Giang(Foochow) are special citrus grown in the Rajang Basin. They were originally brought over by the hardworking Foochows from the Fujian Province of Mainland China.My uncles grew more than a hundred trees of tangerines in the 1960's in Nang Chong. The fruits were really good source of vitamin C and some income.
In the Fujian province of China, tangerines have orange skins which peel off easily, whereas those in Sarawak are green. We have always wondered why they are green skinned in Sarawak. Some tangerines have no seeds at all while some have huge seeds.
Do you know that tangerines have been cultivated in China and Japan for more than 3000 years?
However they are called tangerines because they are named after Tangiers of Morocco, the port where the fruit were first shipped to Europe from in the nineteenth century.
China produces more tangerines than any other country. Most of the tangerines produced in the United States come from Florida, California and Arizona.
Sibu is often remembered by people for the tangerines.
For many years my grandmother's Nang Chong farm produced a lot of tangerines until one year the floods and the disease wiped out all the trees. We thus lost one our means of income. It was sad to see only trunks and empty branches of the trees for several years. No one in the Sarawak Agriculture Department could find a way to save the industry. In fact it was also in those years that the Bintangor's Green Mountain Orange Drinks went under.
Later, whenever my grandmother returned from Sibu she would bring a huge paper bag of these tangerines tied with straws. And we would enjoy eating them. We would feel sad that we no longer had our own tangerines.
Today many Nang Chong houses still have a few tangerine trees growing in their yard. The memories of fifty or a hundred tangerine trees still linger in my mind. The prosperous tangerine industry never recovered till today.