Agriculture: Heavy rainfall in the past two days has given hope for the famers of Taraythang Gewog in  Gelephu. The upland paddy growers are feeling optimistic about this year’s yield.

It has been four years since upland rice was introduced in the gewog. That also helped solve problems related to irrigation.

Pemachholing chiwog’s villagers are thriving on upland rice.

Dhan Man Gurung from Pemachholing said that until 2011 planting paddy, even in an acre land, was a challenge. There just wasn’t enough water, and so, the rice yield wasn’t good. He added that forest fire from Assam damaged the irrigation channel.

So when the idea of growing upland paddy came to the village, Dhan Man was among the first to give it a try. He doesn’t regret the decision. The yield has been good since. He could harvest 1,200kg rice just by depending on rainwater. He harvested 400kg more rice from land fed with water from irrigation scheme.

“Upland paddy grows fast. Within three months we can harvest them. It’s easy,” he said. “Harvest time does not allow wild animals wreak havoc in the fields.”

About 30 households in Pemachholing have adopted this new method. It covers more than 50 acres of land in the whole gewog. The gewog has about 80 acres of arable land.

The Research and Development Centre (RDC) in Bhur, in partnership with the Gewog Agriculture Extension Centre, initiated upland paddy demonstration in 2011.

The work on upland rice was first initiated with support from Biodiversity Use and Conservation Asia Programme (BUCAP) that aimed to enhance the on-farm conservation, development and utilisation of arable crops.

The gewog’s agriculture extension officer sensitized the farmers about upland rice technology and provided seeds of proven upland rice varieties with support of the BUCAP project.

Initially, only two improved varieties – Bhur Kamja 1 and 2 – were introduced. Now farmers have begun planting the third improved variety from Nepal, Sukhadhan 2.

Depending on the variety, productivity of upland rice in Taraythang ranges from 1,400kg to 1,893kg per acre.

According to RDC officials, the success of upland rice in Taraythang Gewog is an output of the suitable upland rice technology developed by RDC in Bhur and the Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) trials and demonstration supported by the BUCAP project, which was further complimented by the active participation of the farmers.

Introduction of upland rice has greatly enhanced food security of the farmers as well as the conservation, development and utilization of rice.

“Apart from augmenting the household food security of the Taraythang farmers, upland rice is also contributing towards the achievement of the 11thFive Year Plan rice production target in Sarpang,” an official said.

The cultivation of upland rice is proven to be a climate-smart agriculture technology, especially when water for rice production is increasingly becoming scarce.

Tararythang’s agriculture extension officer, Ugyen Gyeltshen, said farmers have just begun picking up the method. This method will sustain in areas that face acute irrigation water shortage. “Currently, most farmers grow rice just enough for self-consumption, but they have capacity to grow on commercial scale.”

He added that upland rice cultivation could be the cultivation method henceforth, with increasing number of villagers complaining about irrigation difficulties across the country.

Villagers will begin preparing fields for upland rice cultivation from end of this month.

Nirmala Pokhrel, Tsirang