Farmers lose maize to extreme weather

Kelzang Wangchuk and Rajesh Rai

The continuous heavy rain for about a week damaged more than 15 acres of maize belonging to 27 households in the three chiwogs of Dungmaed gewog in Pemagatshel.

pemagatshel

Pemagatshel

Of the three chiwogs, Mekuri chiwog was the worst hit where 17 households lost more than five acres of maize plants.

The other two chiwogs were Laniri and Woongborang.

Dungmaed gewog’s agriculture extension officer, Tashi Phuntsho, said that a tshogpa said maize plants belonging to two more households were damaged at Woongborang chiwog yesterday morning.

“The damages would increase if the weather does not improve in the next few days.”

“The victims should be compensated Nu 14 per kilogram to the 27 affected households as per the cost of production (CoP), but the damages could increase, as we are still carrying out assessments and compiling reports,” Tashi Phuntsho said.

“It is challenging for us to carry out assessments as we won’t be able to visit Woongborang chiwog because of the swollen rivers on the way, and most of the farm roads are also blocked,” he said.

However, Tashi Phuntsho said they told farmers to carry out staking to support plants as there is a huge possibility for them to survive.

Farmers are worried that what is left would also be damaged by the rain.

Pema Tshewang, who lost about an acre of maize plants, said his family is devastated.

“I am the only one who works on the farm here. I raised the maize and guarded them against monkeys, wild boars, deer and porcupines every night until now,” he said. “It’s all gone.”

Samtse

Meanwhile, a windstorm yesterday damaged acres of maize fields in  Panbari of Tading gewog, Samtse. It started at around 3pm and lasted more than an hour.

Tading gup Jagath Bahadur Ghalley said they were assessing the extent of damages as of yesterday evening.

“It will be done tomorrow,” he said, adding that officials are already on it.

Khenpagaon, which is under Panbari chiwog has also been affected, the gup said.

Panbari has more than 300 households and maize is one of the primary cereals the farmers grow. It had been two months since villagers had grown maize and the harvest was due by June end or early July.

“We consume mainly maize,” a farmer, Tara Man Ghalley said. “But everything has been damaged now.”

He had about an acre of maize.

Panbari tshogpa Hemraj Rai said most of the maize plants had been flattened to the ground.

“I was not able to visit all the places,” he said, adding he will continue visiting affected areas early on today.

The tshogpa said they have to see if the fallen maize plants could be raised.

Meanwhile, the Phuentsholing-Samtse highway, at 21km, towards Samtse from Phuentsholing, was blocked at Panbari due to a landslide caused by the rainstorm. 

More than 50 vehicles were stranded for hours before the block was cleared later in the evening.

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