Encouraged by good price, many farmers in Trashigang started growing potatoes. The total yield reached 13,729.68 metric tonnes (MT) last year.

However, the potato yield dropped by 1,308.03MT this year. 

Potato is the main cash crop in the dzongkhag and almost all gewogs grow potatoes, including Merak and Sakteng. 

The dzongkhag’s assistant agriculture officer, Suraj Gurung, said differences in the timing of rainfall, area of cultivation, interest of the farmers, and crop damage by pests and animals could have lead to the fluctuation in the yield. 

“The production has fluctuated mainly due to crop damaged by hailstone,” he said.

According to the statistics maintained by dzongkhag agriculture sector, the drop in the yield could be attributed to the drastick reduction of potato produce in the northern gewogs of the dzongkhag. Shongphu gewog produced only 199MT this year compared to the 523MT in 2018.

Agriculture officials said the production in few gewogs remained constant but the gewogs in the south of the dzongkhag saw significant increase in the production. Kangpara gewog produced 934.54 MT of potatoes in 2019 compared to the 888.78 MT in 2018. 

Khaling gewog’s agriculture extension officer, Pema Wangchuk, said degeneration of seed could have affected the yield. “Farmers use the same seed for a long time, which affects the potato yield.”

Some agriculture extension supervisors say that when there is untimely rainfall during season, the yield is affected. 

Yangner gewog’s agriculture extension supervisor, Sonam Yeshi, said wild animals predating the crop, use of excess imported fertilizers and change in climatic condition could be other factors for the decrease in production.

Neten Dorji | Trashigang