English | Dzongkha Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Water scarcity, limited farm mechanisation impede rice cultivation in Bumthang

Kipchu, Bumthang
Oct 13, 2018

Rice farmers in Bumthang are facing numerous challenges to cultivate rice. The challenges are: shortage of irrigation water, limited farm mechanisation and pest birds eating grains.

Farmers say these problems are affecting their yield and often lead to time-consuming task during cultivation and harvesting seasons.

Fifty six-year-old Namgay from Jalikhar is one of the few farmers, who does large-scale rice farming.

He grows the crop on about one and a half acre farm land. His field, which is located along the Chamkhar River, has been irrigated from a tank- fed by a small stream.

Namgay has plans to cultivate more. But scarce irrigation water and lack of proper farm mechanised tools holds him back.

“The main thing is we need a proper irrigation water, and paddy harvesting and threshing machines. If we get these supports, more farmers will take up paddy cultivation,” said Namgay.

In Bumthang, most cultivation and harvesting works are done manually. For example, farmers use tractors to thresh their paddy or use improvised threshing machines, which are time-consuming and tedious.

It requires a large number of farmers to thresh a field of paddy and winnow the grains.

“Even if we have tractors to thresh the paddy, it is hard to gather enough manpower. Those who don’t own tractors can’t get one during the harvesting and threshing season as all tractor owners would be engaged,” adds another farmer from Jalikhar, Sonam Phuentsho.

In Tang Gewog, rice farmers have issues of pest birds eating rice crops. To put an end to the problems, the dzongkhag administration has distributed five water pumps for farmers of Jalikhar a few months ago.

They have now set out plans to cultivate paddy on additional 25 acres of land. The dzongkhag agriculture sector says farmers need to submit proposals regarding farming assistance such as enhancing rice production.

Currently, paddy cultivation is done on about 65 acres of agricultural lands in Tang and Chhoekhor gewogs in Bumthang. Percentage wise, Chhoekhor Gewog takes up 75 per cent of rice cultivation.


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