Disaster: More than 40 acres of maize and potato fields were damaged after a hailstorm hit Yenangbrangsa chiwog in Samkhar gewog on May 23.

The fields belonged to 56 households from the three villages of Yenangbrangsa, Bikhargonpa and Tamalung. While Bikahrgonpa’s main crop is potato, the other two villages depend on maize.

Gewog agriculture extension supervisor, Mahindra Rai said the severity of damage to the maize crop is around 60 percent while around 30 percent of potato crops were damaged. Given that it is the harvest time for potatoes, the extent of the damage was minimised as farmers can still harvest the crop.

“Around 4,000 to 5,000 cardamom seedlings that were recently planted on a large scale at Yenangbrangsa were also washed away by the resulting flood,” he said. “We are in the process of assessing the production loss. Once complete, the final report will be submitted to the department.”

Yenangbrangsa Tshogpa, Karsang, said the hailstorm that lasted for more than an hour, started after 4pm in the evening. The hailstones measured about two inches in diametre.

“There was a sudden shower of hailstones followed by heavy rainfall. Soon, it started flooding and washed away all our crops,” he said. “Had it not been for the farm road, it would have posed a threat to about five households that are vulnerable to floods,” he added. “We are worried and hoping the government will compensate us for our loss.”

Besides the crops, farm roads were also affected with drains being damaged and portions of the roads washed away.

“We managed to clear a block at the Bikhargonpa farm road but small vehicles won’t able to ply over it,” the tshogpa said. “Parts of the Yenangbrangsa farm road has been washed away in about four places and vehicles cannot pass through.”

Meanwhile, villagers are devastated. For a remote chiwog, which is slowly developing, the losses are huge. Tashi Wangdi, 43, from Yenangbrangsa lost more than 50 percent of his maize crop to the hailstorm and heavy rains.

“We won’t be able to earn much from what is left. I doubt if the harvest would even be enough for us,” he said. “Otherwise, I would sell about 1,000kg of maize every year. The worst part is we don’t have enough time to grow back the maize”.

Jurmi Wangdi, 29, from Bikhargonpa said his entire three langdos of potatoes were badly affected by the flood. He said the disaster hit at a time when potato plants were starting to flower.

“Maize or paddy cultivation is not feasible in our village. We entirely depend on potatoes for cash income,” he said. “We are worried that the potato yield will significantly drop this year or the potatoes won’t grow much in size.”

Trashigang Dzongrab, Pema Dorji said no reports of hailstorm were reported from other parts of the dzongkhag yet.

Tshering Wangdi | Trashigang