Disaster:  Heavy rainstorm damaged more than 85 acres of maize in Ngatshang, Mongar on July 18.

The affected villages are Wagom Tserma, Bumpazor, and Khurcha in Waikhar chiwog and Gonpa, Omkhar and Dhomlung village in Pelshu chiwog.

About 600 metric tonnes of maize worth Nu 127,500 was reportedly destroyed in the windstorm. Maize is one of the main crops grown in the gewog.

Yesterday, the Ngatshang gup, gewog agriculture extension supervisor and tshogpas went door to door to survey the damages. It was found that 134 households had lost their maize plantations.

Ngatshang gup Phuntsho said the recent rainstorm was the fourth to hit the gewog and the worst this year. “Such rainstorms hit farmers every year but this was the worst ever,” he said.

Gewog agriculture extension supervisor Cheki Wangmo said that annually farmers cultivate maize on more than 400-acre land. Damages were also reported in Mongar, Chali, Tsenkhar and Thangrong gewogs, where an inspection team will be deputed soon.

A detailed report will be sent to the Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer (DAO) for support.

However, DAO Khampa said that no immediate compensation could be given to the farmers besides supporting them annually with seedlings and vegetables seeds.

“I will forward the report to the Department of Agriculture to look into it immediately and also send a copy to the disaster management department,” he said.

Cheki Wangmo, 37, from Waikhar village is one of the farmers who lost her entire maize plantation.

“I am the lone worker in the house and everything is finished,” she said. “We sell maize to buy rice and other essentials.”

“I do not know if my children would be going to school next year,” said another farmer, Khurbu, who also all her crops to the storm.

Farmer Chimi Dorji said the storm hit the villages just as the plants had started to fruit and after nights of guarding their fields from wild animals.

“The losses will fall heavy on the farmers,” he said. “It may not do any good but most farmers are hopelessly trying to erect the plants back by using sticks and branches.”

Farmers believe that the storm hit their crops because the gewog didn’t continue with the traditional practice of not allowing anyone to go to the mountains from the third month of Bhutanese calendar to the eight month, called as la dam.

“Since we didn’t preserve this culture, its impact is seen on the crops,” Chimi Dorji said.

According to the gup Phuntsho, this issue of discontinuing the practice was even raised in the Dzongkhag Tshogdu. “But there was no resolution and the practice has been discontinued for the last two years,” he said.

By Tashi Phuntsho, Mongar