This was the third hailstorm to hit Wangdue

Disaster: A hailstorm on the night of April 20 has severely damaged potato crops of at least 10 households in Tomla village of Dangchu gewog, Wangdue.

This was the third hailstorm to hit Wangdue, particularly those living in the gewogs of Kashi and Dangchu.

The gewog agriculture extension officer, Sonam Pem said the damages were too severe and almost 95 percent of the affected fields were damaged.

The most damage suffered by a single household was one and a half acres, while the least was 30 decimals.

“I was shocked to see the intensity of the damages on the potato fields when I reached the village, yesterday morning,” said Sonam, who was informed about the hailstorm in the morning yesterday.

The hailstones remained on the ground until the evening, as the weather remained gloomy throughout the day.

Following the hailstorm, the potato fields were hit by landslide, which caused further damage. “We took three samples and 29 potato plants to assess the damages, of which 25 plants were found completely destroyed,” she said. Which means, if there are 30 potato plants in one field, less than five plants are likely to survive or grow.

While a few other villages were also hit by the hailstorm, the damage suffered was minor and farmers chose not to submit reports, said agriculture officials.

Light hail occurred once again at around 12pm yesterday while the damage assessment was going on.

People are hopeful and requesting the government to come to their aid considering the severity of the crop damages, said officials.

Last year, a landslide destroyed crops of three households but no government assistance was provided. As a result, farmers decided not to report the earlier hailstorm incident, said local leaders.

On the evening of April 11, an hour-long hailstorm destroyed crops of around 100 houses in four chiwogs of Kashi gewog. For 88 houses of two chiwogs of Bayul and Lembi, that was the second hailstorm of the week.

The hailstorm on April 6 damaged around 87.55 acres of potato and wheat crops of two chiwogs of Bayul and Lembi. That hailstorm lasted for half an hour.

Meanwhile, the damage assessments will be submitted to the departments of disaster management and agriculture.

Local leaders said that earlier people of Tomla produced wheat for a living, but six years back they switched to growing potato on a large scale following farm road construction. Since then potato is their main source of income.

Expenses for the household, including spending on school going children, and annual pujas are met through the sale of potato.

Dawa Gyelmo | Wangdue