Agriculture: Trashigang surpassed the dzongkhag’s paddy production target last year by a huge margin. This year, however, the farmers worry that the harvest might not be as good.

A seasonal hailstorm damaged acres of paddy fields in the two major rice growing gewogs in the north, and lack of irrigation water among others affected the gewogs.

Phongmey and Bidung gewogs that boasted productions of 627 tonnes and 429 tonnes last year lost almost 155 tonnes in total. This, according to agriculture officials, could have an impact on the achievement of performance agreement target for paddy production between 2015 and 2016.

Radhi, the gewog with highest paddy production in Trashigang, was also partially affected with four percent of their paddies destroyed by hailstorm. Radhi gup, Jigmi Namgyal, said lesser rainfall and lack of irrigation water are two major factors that would affect the yield.

“With continuous rain every night for the past week, we are not expecting a good production this year,” he said. “But the damage by hailstorm was only about 100 dreys for every acre in lower Radhi.”

However, the southern gewogs experienced good harvest this year with Kanglung gewog seeing the yield tripled from the previous year when the gewog produced only 128 tonnes.

“I got about 300 dreys from one langdo last year. This year, the yield increased to about 1,000 dreys,” Kanglung Gup Kinzang Dorji said. “With the good harvest, villagers are planning for more cultivation next season.”

Even the practice of reviving paddy cultivation in fallow fields has increased in Kanglung and a few gewogs like Samkhar, Shongphu and Bartsham, among others.

“Apart from few acres here and there, most of the paddy fields in Kanglung are increasing,” Kinzang Dorji said. “However, a few households in Rongthong were affected by road widening works at the start of the season.”

The gewogs of Samkhar, Bartsham and Kangpara are also expecting a decent paddy harvest this year. Samkhar and Kangpara produced 402 tonnes and 479 tonnes respectively last year. Bartsham produced 243 tonnes.

“We exceeded our target last year and we are expecting to achieve the same this year. Use of fallow lands for paddy cultivation is improving with the coming of power tillers,” Samkhar gup, Sonam Dorji said.

Although Bartsham was partially affected by hailstorm, the harvest has turned out to be good this time around. With approximately about 2,000 acres of paddy fields, Bartsham Gup Sonam Dorji said they should be able to meet the target.

Meanwhile, dzongkhag agriculture officer, DC Bhandari, said that the hailstorm incident has affected two major rice growing gewogs. He added that the coming in of power tillers and more irrigation channels should boost the production.

“Labour management has become very easier with the power tillers and farmers have started growing in the fallow lands,” he said. “We should be able to comment on the achievement of the performance agreement target once the crop cutting is complete and data collected.”

For the financial year 2015-2016, Trashigang has a target to produce 3570 tonnes of paddy. The dzongkhag produced 4278.897 tonnes in the financial year 2014-2015.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang