Baling farmers grow more for fear of lockdown 

Nim Dorji | Trongsa

Worried that a lockdown would cause food shortage, farmers in Baling, Langthel gewog have started to grow more maize this year.

They grow maize every year but this year the farmers have not spared even the steep slopes with plenty of stones. The barren areas, that have been neglected so far, are now dug and prepared for maize cultivation.

Farmers said due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they are worried that they might run out of essential food items.

A villager, Namgay Lhamo said that she hired more than 20 people to clear two acres of land and prepare it for maize cultivation.

“The field has lots of stones so it takes longer to prepare.”

She has grown additional maize on a one-acre field near her house.

“If the country comes under lockdown due to the current pandemic, I want to make sure that my family has enough food,” Namgay said.

Farmers make kharang and sip (flattened corn) both for self-consumption and commercial purpose.

Farmers at the same time are worried about armyworms attacking the young shoots.

Another villager Sangay said that since the fields are located far from their homes, once the plants grow, they have to guard round the clock from monkeys and wild boars.

“Although we have electric fencing, which has benefited us a lot, we still have to guard the field as it cannot stop some animals,” he added.

With the schools in the country closed, the students are back in the village and helping their parents in farm work.

A class 12 student, Sangay Lham is busy these days in the fields. She studies in the morning and evening attending lessons on television and online.

“I am happy that I can help my parents and also at the same time learn new things about farming.”

The dzongkhag and gewog administrations have helped the villagers with electric fencing equipment.

Baling is located 15km away from Langthel towards Zhemgang.  The area is suitable to cultivate all kinds of cereals and vegetables.

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