Local leaders request government to support hailstorm-affected farmers

DT: The local leaders in Wangdue mull requesting the government to look into the possibilities of helping the hailstorm-affected farmers of the dzongkhag’s six gewogs.

At the Dzongkhag Tshogdu (DT) held yesterday, Gangtey Gup Dophu said that people of Gangtey are dependent on potato production. However, this year hailstorm destroyed the crop. The gewog was hit twice. Wildlife encroachment aggravated the situation.

Dophu said that it is important that the government intervene so that the farmers can recover the loss.

Farmers of Kashi, Phangyul, Gangtey, Sephu and Phobjikha gewogs have also faced the same problem.

Kashi Gup Sigay Dorji said that hailstorm destroyed the crops twice, adding that Health Minister Tandin Wangchuk also visited some of the affected parts of the gewog said that he would help the affected farmers. Lyonpo asked the gewog to submit damage assessment report.

Sigay Dorji said that because potato is the main cash crop for the farmers, destruction of the crop by hailstorm has put farmers in difficult situation.

Some local leaders suggested the DT to raise the issue with the authorities concerned.

As per the damage assessment report by dzongkhag’s agriculture officials, more than 500 households in six gewogs have lost potato and other crops worth approximately Nu 8.5 million. Several hailstorms in April, May and June affected about 244 acres of croplands.

About two months ago in Phobjikha, more than 60 percent of the potato plants were affected by hailstorm, said local leaders. This has left many farmers worried about their income.

Some local leaders said that farmers are hoping for compensation from the government.

However, Wangdue Dzongdag Sonam Jigme, said: “While it is disappointing not just for farmers but also for us to see such disaster, people should not misunderstand that the money they received last year was samso soelray from His Majesty the King.”

It was not crop compensation from the government, and there is no such rule to compensate for crop damages, he added.

Sources said with large number of farmers losing huge amount of crops to natural disaster, there is a need for a crop-insurance system, which will not only help farmers recover losses but also reduce burden on government.

The dzongkhag’s agriculture officer, Sonam Zangpo, said that hailstorms damaged crops in six of the 15 gewogs in Wangdue, and that gewog extension and dzongkhag agriculture offices have conducted thorough damage assessment. Reports have been submitted to all authorities concerned including disaster management department and agriculture ministry.

Sonam Zangpo said that there is however no rule to compensate crop damage and no compensations were paid as of now. The dzongkhag office, however, did provided farmers with seedlings for the next season before.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue