Agriculture: Villagers of Eusa and Taktse in Drakteng gewog, Trongsa are worried that they will not be able to transplant paddy this year with armyworms infesting paddy seedlings.

Following the infestation, the seedlings in the nurseries have started to pale and dry even before the transplantation has begun. Both big and small armyworms are found swarming the fields, sticking to the leaves, stem and roots of the seedlings.

Pointing to armyworms stuck to the roots of the seedlings, farmer Kinzang Choden, 36, from Eusa said these worms stick to the stem in the evenings and mornings.

“I am worried that I will not be able to transplant paddy this year as the seedlings have started to dry,” she said.

The armyworms have infested all the seedlings that she planted in different plots. “I tried weeding the seedlings a few days ago but the worms are too many,” she said.

Pema Yangdon, 39, said as rice was their staple diet, they may have to go hungry if there was none left to transplant. “The number of worms multiplies at a fast rate,” she said, adding that the infestation was worse than last year.

Pema Yangdon said the infestation started about a week ago leaving farmers in the two villages helpless.

Villagers are yet to inform the gewog or the dzongkhag agriculture office. They said the government provided them electric fencing to keep wild boars at bay but wondered what could prevent the armyworm infestation.

Farmers also said that they did not collect pesticides from the agriculture offices this month as it is considered an auspicious month. The issue is further compounded by less rainfall these days.

Chimi Zangmo from Taktse village, who was returning from her paddy fields, also complained of the armyworm infestation. “I have sown 18 dreys of paddy on two langdos of paddy field,” said Chimi Zangmo, who now stands apprehensive.

A langdo is an area of land that a pair of oxen can plough in a day.

Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer Karma Chewang said that armyworm infestation was reported from Nubi, Tangsibji and Drakteng gewogs. “It’s not an outbreak but a symptom,” he said.

The dzongkhag has already distributed pesticides to the gewog extension offices.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa