According to the latest agriculture reports, large movement of people from rural to urban centres is hurting the agriculture sector badly. Fifty-three percent of farming households faced labour shortage in 2016.

The agriculture statistics 2016 shows that shortage of labour on farms and crop damage by the wild animals are the top two constraints confronting farming households across the country.

Forty percent of the farming households reported crop damage by wild animals in 2016. Crop damage by wild animals saw slight decrease in 2016 from 43 percent in 2015.

The report also reveals some significant factors that affect agriculture in the country.

Interestingly, despite more roads, more farming households complained that they were affected by limited access to market in 2016 (16 percent), an increase of one percent from the previous year.

There was decrease in damage from natural calamities such as hailstones and wind last year, a drop by a percent to three.

There was improvement in availability of irrigation last year with the launch of numerous irrigation schemes in the south including the Kuchi Diana Irrigation scheme, one of the largest in the country, in Yoeseltse gewog in Samtse.

The 7.2km irrigation canal benefits more than 300 households of Yoeseltse and Sangacholing gewogs and covers more than 950 acres.

At least 7 percent of farming households reported their crops damaged by natural calamities or wild animals, resulting in low food production and poor quality of their farm produce. This is a dropped from eight percent the previous year.

Paddy and maize are the two major cereal crops damaged by the wildlife.

Last year, the farmers lost about 1,356 metric tonnes of paddy after wild animals rampaged across 1,283acres of paddy fields. The figure was much higher in 2015 with a loss of 2,330MT of paddy lost from 1,975 acres.

In 2015, 3,753MT of maize was lost to wildlife. Last year, 3,892MT of paddy was destroyed by animals.

Wild animals damaged 1,083MT of potato from 502 acres, and 373MT of vegetables from 373 acres in 2015. Last year, the farmers lost more vegetables to wild animals from 421 acres.

Despite the challenges, food security seems to be improving. In 2015, 63 percent of the households produced enough food.

Tshering Palden