Some gewogs saw good yield while others were disappointed

Agriculture: Spurred by good price in 2014, more farmers in Trashigang got into cultivating potatoes, but production has slightly decreased in 2015.

Compared with the 11,224MT of potatoes produced in 2014, production in 2015 dropped to 10,634MT.

While production in few gewogs remained almost constant, the gewogs in the south of the dzongkhag saw significant increases while a few gewogs in the north saw drastic decrease in production.

For instance, Thrimshing gewog produced 1,400MT of potatoes in 2015 compared to the 669MT in 2014. On the other hand, Yangnyer in the north produced only 947.1MT compared to the 2,155MT in 2014.

Agriculture officials said differences in timing of rainfall, area of cultivation, interest of the farmers, and crop damage by animals could have lead to the fluctuation in the yield.

Without data, they couldn’t confirm the factors that led to the fluctuation in the main cash crop in eastern Bhutan.

Although there was not much difference in the area under potato cultivation between 2014 and 2015 in Yangnyer, the gewog’s agriculture extension supervisor, Jigme Wangchuk said rainfall could have affected the yield.

“When there is untimely rainfall during season, the yield is affected. Incessant destruction of the crop by animals could be another factor for the drop in production,” he said.

Agriculture extension supervisor of Thrimshing, Tshering Wangmo attributed the increase in production in the gewog to the market prices in 2014.

“Normally, the production figures keep fluctuating every year and it is mostly pushed by prices in the previous years. Farmers cultivate more after prices soar in the market,” she said.

Phungshing tshogpa, Tsheten Dorji said farmers in Thrimshing have started focusing more on potatoes after 2014 when farmers were even selling potato seeds.

“Following the good income, farmers have started cultivating more potatoes than before. But the market prices were not as good last year,” he said.

Assistant Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer, Suraj Gurung said the current records of potato production with the department were tentative and collected through oral interactions with farmers.

Therefore, the production figure could change when standard measuring units are applied. The final figures would be out in April.

Meanwhile the over all potato production in the country also declined by 14.22MT in 2015 compared to 2014 figures. Average potato price dropped to Nu 16.55 a kilo in 2015 from Nu 25.97 in 2014.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang