Hailstorm leaves farmers distressed

Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

Hailstorm on May 28 destroyed acres of potato sprouts.

Five chiwogs in the two gewogs are affected severely.

For about 700 households of the Gangtey and Phobjikha, potato is a major source of income.

Sonam Dorji, 43, a farmer in Phobjikha, had grown the crop in a four-acre land. Hailstorm destroyed more than half the crop.

Every year prior to plantation, the villagers of the two gewogs seeks loan from the Bhutan Development Bank Limited (BDBL).

The money is spent on buying pesticides, and seeds for the plantation.

This year, Sonam Dorji availed Nu 100,000 loan from BDBL and Nu 200,000 more for the construction of his house.

“I don’t know how I am going to repay these loans. And what we earn is for the year’s expenditure—it goes for our children’s education and daily expenditure,” the father of three children said.

Potato is harvested towards the end of July every year. If harvest is good, from around four acres of land, a farmer can earn about Nu 700,000.

In Gangtey, 65-year-old Wangchuk’s loan is due on July this year. “I pay Nu 55,000 every three months for the loan I took for building a house,” Wangchuk said,

His three-acre potato field is completely damaged.

“One year’s hard work is lost within minutes. My wife was crying. The field is a mess,” Wangchuk said. He has lost another one acre of crop to the hailstorm.

Gups and agriculture extension officers are studying the damage.

According to Gangtey Gup Gyeltshen, the villages of Mang and Mangthangkha in the gewog have suffered serious damage on their crops.

In Phobjikha, Drangha, Dogselna, and Khemdro chiwogs have reportedly suffered serious damage.

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