Lyonchhen meets affected farmers in Paro 

Phub Dem | Paro

Upon His Majesty The King’s command, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering visited Paro yesterday to share the news of His Majesty’s kidu to farmers whose paddy fields were affected by the recent rainfall.

While meeting with affected farmers and local government leaders, Lyonchhen shared His Majesty’s concerns for the farmers, especially during the unprecedented time.

Lyonchhen reiterated that His Majesty The King commanded that the farmers should be provided with kidu, as people are already having a difficult time making ends meet due to the pandemic.

He said that His Majesty has committed to provide complete compensation to farmers affected by the recent rain, adding that gewog, dzongkhag, and officials from His Majesty’s Secretariat would begin the assessments soon.

However, farmers in Paro said they will not take the kidu, as His Majesty The King has already been providing unwavering financial support during the pandemic for two years.

A farmer, Sangay, representing farmers from Doteng and Dopshari gewog, said that although the rainfall had adversely affected rice growers, farmers decided not to receive the kidu.

He said that the pandemic has already burdened the royal coffers and farmers can sustain themselves with whatever they have left. “We are grateful for the support. We have already received so much of His Majesty’s gracious support so far.”

Another farmer from Dopshari, Ugyen, expressed his gratitude to His Majesty The King for always protecting and caring for the people. “We are more concerned and guilty for burdening His Majesty, especially during this time of emergency.”

He said that the overall impact of the disaster has been significant, but individually, he said that it wasn’t grave, and locals can sustain the year without any issue.

According to the Prime Minister, 13 rice growing dzongkhags were affected by the rainfall, from which Paro is badly affected, followed by Samtse and Punakha.

He said that farmers experience rainfall during harvest time every year, as it usually falls during the retreating monsoon period, when extreme weather events such as windstorms, rain, and hailstones occur.

The Director for the Department of Agricultural Marketing and Cooperatives (DAMC), Kinlay Tshering, who accompanied the PM, shared three plans the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests has focused on to mitigate and reduce such disasters.

She said that while the National Centre for Hydrology and Metrology (NCHM) telecasts a daily weather report, the information does not benefit farmers, as they plan their harvest time a week earlier.

She said that the ministry and NCHM will conduct a meeting soon to request the department to forecast weather reports between three days to a week beforehand. “If we can provide a weather forecast of 10 to 30 days, then farmers could better plan their activities.”

Kinlay Tshering also said that farmers should be mindful of the weather forecast, and plan their activities accordingly.

She said that as combined harvesters are effective for a swift harvest, the ministry procured 20 additional machines, but due to the pandemic, the transportation was delayed. “Currently there are only 15 combined harvesters in the country.”

She said that the machines are expensive and insufficient to cover all areas. “We have plans to procure more machines and expedite the process to mitigate such disasters across the country.”

Kinlay Tshering said that farmers can postpone paddy harvesting in the future, and try not to coincide with the retreating monsoon period.

NCHM officials, however, said the recent rain was caused by low pressure and western disturbances, and the monsoon has already retreated at this time.

Lyonchhen said that the government and experts will plan and strategise to mitigate such inconveniences in the future. “Farmers should be cautious and cooperate with weather directives.”

Lyonchhen will be visiting other dzongkhags affected by the rainfall to convey His Majesty’s concern and kidu support.

Edited by Tashi Dema