Chhimi Dema

National Centre for Organic Agriculture grows four high-altitude rice varieties at Yusipang, Thimphu–a place which was not considered suitable for growing rice until now.

The rice varieties were grown on marshy land under microclimatic conditions wherein the climate above and within the crop and soil root zone is influenced by day-to-day management.

This was a trial to study the success of growing rice under controlled conditions.

Jakar Ray Naab, Janam, Yusiray Kaap-2, and Khangma Maap rice varieties are being grown.

An official from the centre said that the trial indicates that rice varieties can be grown for a short duration and are cold-tolerant. “It also indicates that we can successfully utilise the marshy area [to cultivate rice] where other crops cannot be cultivated.”

Currently, the centre is studying the possibilities of growing rice in high-altitude areas of the country.

The official said that the farmers would test the rice varieties which showed high cold tolerance and maturity during the trial.

According to the annual agriculture statistics, a total of 40,081 metric tonnes (MT) of irrigated paddy was harvested in 2021 and 53.361 MT in 2021. More than 427 MT of upland paddy was harvested in 2021.

The report mentioned that paddy growers have decreased from 28,516 holders in 2020 to 25,336 holders in 2021.

The official said that the centre focuses on developing cold-tolerant rice varieties considering the country has about 20 percent of rice growing areas in higher altitudes above 1,800 metres.

These areas, the official said, need cold-tolerant, short maturity, and high-yielding rice varieties.