Phurpa Lhamo, Phub Dem and Choki Wangmo
Heavy rain since October 17 has damaged harvested paddies and ripe standing paddy crops in many parts of the country.
The incessant rain ruined paddies in the western, eastern and central dzongkhags as farmers started harvesting their paddies. In the south, farmers have not yet harvested the crop, but the rain has damaged it.
Farmers in Punakha and Wangdue, who expected a bountiful harvest, are distressed. Their paddy crops are floating in rainwater in the fields. They had left it out to dry before threshing.
In Thangoo, Wangdue, farmer Karma harvested more than two acres of paddy and had left it to dry. “I harvested everything just before the rain started.”
Karma was in his paddy fields yesterday morning to attempt to drain the water filling the fields. “It was no use. There was so much water in the fields.”
Farmers said that once paddies are soaked in the rain, the rice inside will be damaged and will rot easily.
“The rice will also break and cannot be sold,” Karma said. “It is worrying. Our whole year’s yield has been damaged.”
Wangdue’s assistant agriculture officer, Domzang, said local leaders and agriculture officials will assess and compile the damages.
He said that as the impact is nationwide, a way forward will be discussed accordingly.
In Bjena gewog, the rain also damaged most of the ripe paddy crop.
Bjena gup Khandu said that the rain has damaged a maximum of one acre and a minimum of two or three decimals of paddy fields for each household.
He said that in Ngawang village, desuups and local government officials visited the fields to help drain water from the fields.
In Punakha, paddy crops were seen floating in the fields. Worried farmers shared several videos and pictures of the damage on various social media platforms.
In the Bumtakha-Tempakha and Jangwakha-Sewla chiwogs of Chubbu gewog, landslides caused by the heavy rainfall damaged paddy fields belonging to seven households.
According to Chubbu gup Sonam Tobgay, the damage was reported on October 17.
Heavy rains since Sunday have destroyed harvested paddy crops in several parts of Paro. Paddy fields are flooded with rainwater and harvested paddies are floating over the terraces.
Many farmers who had left the freshly harvested crops in their fields to dry before threshing have been seen rushing about in their gumboots to save their rice by diverting the rainwater.
Lham, a farmer from Kichu, was anticipating a bountiful harvest this year. She had recently harvested the paddy crops and was planning to thresh them this week.
Her paddy terraces are flooded and much of the crop has been washed away by storm water as the irrigation canal is too small to drain the water. “I will collect what is left and feed it to the animals.”
She said that other rice fields are flooded, but she expected the crop would be suitable for consumption. “We have informed the gewog extension officers and expect some help.”
Another farmer, Gaki, and her daughter were seen draining water from her rice terrace. She also left her harvested rice in the field to dry.
She said that farmers could at least harvest and collect rice if it stopped raining. “But if the rain continues, the storm water would wash away the harvested and ready-to harvest paddies.”
She said the crops are submerged in rainwater. “They will start germinating if it continues to rain. The rains have ruined everything.”
According to local residents, a similar incident happened a decade ago but they never received any compensation.
Farmers said crop insurance could compensate for the loss.
The dzongkhag agriculture officer, Tandin, said most farmers do not have crop insurance, although the dzongkhag conducted an awareness programme.
He said that gewog agriculture extension officers are compiling damage reports. “The rain could put a dent the expected rice production of the dzongkhag, as well as the quality.”
With the paddy harvest just weeks away, the incessant rain has crushed the hopes of farmers in Tsirang whose crops were damaged overnight.
Although local government leaders have yet to assess the damage, residents said that heavy rainfall and windstorms would impact the yield this year.
According to sources, almost all paddy-growing gewogs in Tsirang reported damage to their crops.
A resident of Tsirangtoed, San Man Subba, said that the damage to crops in Sergithang and Tsirangtoed, popular rice-growing gewogs in the dzongkhag, has been significant. “A whole year’s hard work and tending in the fields, wiped out overnight. We are disappointed.”
In Tsholingkhar gewog, most of the crops were limp, with the paddy rice head stock submerged in the water or mud.
Gup Passang Thingh Tamang said the chiwog representatives were told not to go out to assess the damage yet. “We will get the records of the damage soon.”
Kilthorthang gup Beda Moni Chamlagai said that damage to crops has been reported from all chiwogs in the gewog.
The situation is no different in Dagana.
According to Goshi mangmi, Santa Bahadur Subba, 11 acres of paddy riceand millet were damaged in Balaygang, and about eight acres in lower Goshi.
Since the crop insurance scheme has yet to be implemented, farmers are devastated.
The dzongkhag agriculture officials said that they have not received any official reports of crop damage yet. Since there were risks of natural disasters from the continuous rain.
In Buli, more than two acres of paddy plants that were harvested on October 15 and 16 were drenched in rainwater.
Nine households from Buli were harvesting their paddy crops when it started to rain on Friday evening.
While farmers in upper Kheng were preparing to harvest the crop, lower Kheng farmers were planning to harvest in two weeks’ time.
Gewog agriculture extension office has asked the farmers to temporarily stop preparing for the harvest until the weather forecast improves.
Edited by Tashi Dema