The commercial paddy production in Gelephu, introduced by Farm Machinery Corporation Limited (FMCL) in 2017 near the fishery area, could cultivate only 25 acres of paddy this year.
FMCL had planned to increase cultivation on 71 acres this season. However, immediate lockdown that restricted movement within the town and the lack of labour during plantation hampered the progress.
Nursery raising, clearing work, and preparing the required areas to increase the paddy plantation, was ready. Over Nu 800,000 was spent trying to expand the farming.
Regional manager, Kinley Yangzom, said it was difficult to get labourers on a regular basis. The plantation required over 50 labours.
“We have increased the wages for the labourers but it was not as effective as in the past. We also supported the labourers with the transportation service,” she said.
The cultivation area falls under thromde area and lockdown did not allow any activity. “Paddies started to flower even without proper weeding,” said Kinley Zangmo.
The commercial paddy production was started with the aim to make barren wetland cultivable and to reduce the harm caused by the wildlife to the community near the cultivation.
It was also initiated to help farmers pick up commercial paddy plantations to help the country realise rice self-sufficiency.
The firm managed to hire day labourers from nearby Indian settlements in the past. However, restrictions are imposed on the day workers.
FMCL plans to revive the commercial paddy production with increased mechanisation efforts after the pandemic. However, officials said that mechanisation was not effective.
An official from FMCL said the cost of production was much higher as it required higher expenses for the preparation of nursery. “The nature of the soil is different and the machine fails frequently,” he said.