To increase production of rice, a staple Bhutanese diet, the agriculture ministry has introduced two other varieties of spring paddy.
Spring paddy called Anand, GB-1 and GB-3 were cultivated in about 100 acres in Khamethang, Samdrup Jongkhar, 185 acres in Chuzergang, 136 acres in Gelephu and 100 acres in Yoeseltse, Samtse.
“These varieties of spring rice proved to have short maturity period”, agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said.
He said that these varieties were planted in the past three weeks and in short duration the paddy were ready to harvest and the Farm Machinery Corporation Limited (FMCL) has begun to harvest spring rice in these locations.
The harvest of spring paddy from all locations is estimated to be about 500 metric tonnes (MT), which would roughly be a worth Nu 15 million and would increase rice sufficiency by about 3 percent.
As per the report in Chuzargang, FMCL cultivated a total of 185 acres with the Anadi/Anand variety.
In Gelephu a total of 136 acres in a single location was cultivated with rice variety GB-1 and the first transplanting took place on 13 March.
About 100 acres of wetland was cultivated in Yoeseltshe with two varieties: Anand in small area and GB-3 in the rest of the fields. Nursery was raised from 14 Feb and transplanting done from 15 March till 4 April. Shortage of irrigation water and heavy weed infestations were reported as major issues.
The agriculture minister said that this initiative is to encourage farmers to cultivate spring paddy on larger scale.
The ministry’s target is to produce at least 90,000 MT of rice by the end of the 11th Five Year Plan, which is July 2018.
People are showing interest and are already engaged in growing spring rice varieties in addition to cultivating their traditional crops that includes maize, potatoes and mandarin according to ministry officials.
As per agriculture specialist the government will support farmers with free high-yielding seeds to encourage growing such rice varieties.
The ministry is already engaged in bringing more wetland into paddy cultivation. Wetlands left fallow due to water shortage are being re-cultivated. This is being done by renovating and repairing irrigation canals.
However, agriculture officials are still apprehensive about achieving 100 percent rice self sufficiency. As of now, Bhutan is 50 percent rice self-sufficient.
“There is a great need to find more varieties, and give farmers more options,” a ministry official said.