Unseasonal rains to lower rice quality

Just as most farmers across the country were hard at toil to harvest their paddy, the stormy weather hit. The heavy rains for about a week have caused major damages to the paddy harvest in many parts of Bhutan.

The weather has also affected the yield of cash crops, like chilies, vegetable and other cereal crops. Some small scaled farms have not been able to salvage any of their crops. One of the worst affected dzongkhags is Paro, where most of the farmers are dependent heavily on paddy cultivation for their livelihood.

According to Doteng Gup in Paro, Sangay Tshewang, the heavy rain on October 13 caused major damages to the paddy and about 30 percent of the paddy is damaged in his gewog and one chiwog under his gewog has completely lost the paddy harvest to the rain.

He pointed out that the untimely rain would lower the quality of the grain due to increased moisture content, which would then affect the shelf life of the crop. He said farmers are trying very hard to dry out the water soaked paddies.

With almost 69 percent of the population dependent on agriculture sector for their living, such untimely rainfall has been hard on the farmers this year.  The Gup said the farmers are in need of help and support from the government and concerned agencies.

“Farmers cannot afford to lose their paddy after so much of hard work,” Sangay Tshewang said. He added that if farmers were informed about the unsuitable weather forecast by the concerned agencies then things would have been different.

Meanwhile, minor damages to paddy were reported in Dopshari Gewog, as the farmers in the geowg waited for a bright sunny day to begin their paddy harvest.

Dopshari Gup, Dago, said that a few of the farmers in his gewog had harvested their paddy a day ahead of heavy rainfall, and those paddies, according to him, can be saved. However, he said that if it continues to rain for another week then the quality and shelf life of the paddy would be affected.

Farmers in the largest gewog cultivating paddy, Tsento Gewog, are in the process of drying up paddies through artificial means. The gewog has also reported to the Gewog Agriculture Extension Office to assess the situation and provide support to the affected farmers.

Farmers are also approaching the gewog offices for advice, assistance and intervention. Some easy and quick measures were taken to help farmers to save the harvested paddies from further damage. The Dzongkhag Agriculture Office is in the process of collecting reports on the amount of damages caused by the wind storm and heavy rainfall on the farm harvest this year.

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