Chillies rot hanging, the leaves drying. Aum Dema is busy uprooting the chillies the diseased plants which are typically caused by fungi such as mildews, rusts, and smuts.
She is worried that she might not be able to harvest their cash crops like chilli and other vegetables. “I don’t know why it’s happening but I am uprooting the infected chilli plants,” she said.
Like Dema, other farmers in Jemina are worried about the disease which struck almost all the chillies in their farms. They said that as soon as the plants flower and get chillies, it starts rotting as if it was poured with hot water and they fall.
“We don’t know why it is happening but we are in great loss as we don’t get to sell and consume for our own,” said a farmer, Bidha. “I would be very grateful, if the government could look into the matter as to why it is happening and what could be done,” she said.
Some farmers said, it is blight infesting chilli since last year, but they don’t have any solution, but only to uproot the infected plants. The disease struck almost all the chilli farmers.
“As a farmer our daily hard work becomes an utter loss,” said one of the farmers. “My chillies are eventually falling due to the blight. The late blight broke out in July.”
Likewise, some of the farmers even went on to seek assistance from the agriculture sector but as a temporary relief they were told to use the medicine used for apple blight. “However, that did not help either,” they said.
A villager Tshogpa, Tshering Om was also worried about the situation and aware of this matter. “I heard from my neighbours and villagers that the chillies are dying all of a sudden,” she said.
She mentioned that the native saplings do not rot. “However when it’s insufficient, we have to get it from other districts. When planted together the saplings are infected,” she said.
She added that actually the matter should reach the agriculture sector first but no one informed them about the steps to be taken to report the matter.
According to an agriculture official, the blight is incurable once a plant is infected. He said that the only measure at present is to uproot the infected ones and discard far from the healthier ones.