‘Late Blight’, a fungus disease has seriously affected the quality and yield of potato in the western district of Chukha, where the tuber is the main cash crop.
The agriculture department confirmed the reason for poor yield due to ‘Late Blight’ that is caused due to decay of stems, leaves, and tubers in potato.
“The report has been sent to Dzongkhag and to the National Plant Protection Centre” said the Chapcha gewog Agriculture officer, Surja Kumar Mongar, adding that the department is preparing to support the farmers by providing free seeds through the dzongkhag budget.
Most farmers in the district believe the disease hit because of untimely and less rainfall. “Where we used to yield 100 kg it is now down to 20 kg,” said the Bjagching Gewog Gup, Peljor Dorji, adding that the crop was also comparatively smaller in size and darker in colour.
Of the 11 gewogs in Chukha, Bjagchong and Chapcha are mostly known to produce commercially. In previous years it used to be enough for both commercial and self consumption as quintals are produced from a small area of land,” said Aum Chaddor from Chapcha. “This year the yield isn’t even enough for self consumption.”
Tandin Biddha from Bjagchong gewog said it is difficult to claim desired price to buyers as the product is of poor quality.“We lost our price margin as well as our buyers,” she said. “Before we used to get Nu 3,000 a quintal (100 kgs), this year one quintal hardly fetched Nu 1,000 as the buyers prefer the bigger size potato and ours this year is smaller size.”
Chapcha Gewog Gup, Tobgye, said the poor yield is not only with the potato, but also with carrot, radish and tomato. “But 80 percent of our cash crop is dominated by potato and this year the overall production was very poor,” he said.
As the livelihood of the farmers depends on the agricultural production, it would be of great help if the government could educate farmers on alternate farming, plant disease awareness and in providing good quality seeds said the Chukha Dzongkhag Tshogdu chairman, Gup Tshering Nidup.