A night of hailstorm last week damaged 234.57MT of paddy

Disaster: Around 367 acres of paddy field in five gewogs of Wangdue were destroyed in the October 13 hailstorm affecting 291 households, an assessment of the damage by the dzongkhag administration found.

Of five gewogs, Bjena was the worst hit with 164 households, followed by 69 households in Phangyul, 23 in Nahi, 20 in Nyisho and 15 households in Thedtsho gewog.

Wangdue’s dzongkhag agriculture officer, Sonam Zangpo said an estimated 234.57 metric tones (MT) of paddy was destroyed in the hailstorm. It also affected 6.25 acres of chilli plants in Phangyul gewog.

He said the damage report has been completed and submitted to the disaster management department and the agriculture ministry.

According to Sonam Zangpo, the damage was severe and for a majority of the affected villagers, paddy is their main income.

“As of now there is no system of compensating farmers for crop damage,” he said. In severe cases, farmers have been supported with seeds but he said he couldn’t confirm if the affected farmers in Wangdue would be provided this support.

Health Minister Tandin Wangchuk, who represents the Athang–Thoedtsho constituency recently visited the hailstorm affected farmers of Bjena and other parts of Wangdue.

Meanwhile, after seeing officials visiting them for an assessment, farmers are hopeful about receiving support from the government

Ugyen Tshering, 57, of Sha Ngwang chiwog, Bjena gewog said he was stunned when he lost his year’s work to a night of hailstorm.

“When I first saw the damage, I cried because the yield was good this year and the electric fencing prevented it from the wildlife,” he said. “I have only an acre and half of paddy field and more than 80 percent is destroyed.”

The grandfather of two, Ugyen said he has approached all authorities for some support.

Local leaders said the affected households used to fetch around Nu 100-120 a dre (two kilograms) of rice when sold at the Sunday market. Most places grow Bondeyloem, the reddish grain that is considered as the best local rice.

“In my 57 years as a farmer, I have never seen such a hailstorm,” another farmer Pemba said.

Dawa Gyelmo, Wangdue