English | Dzongkha Friday, June 18, 2021

Farmers in Choongkha lose their crops to new pests, Chhukha


May 11, 2021

Farmers of Choongkha village under Bongo Gewog in Chhukha lost all their hard work to caterpillars and moths infestations lately. Farmers said pesticides from the gewog did little to stop the pests. They are now worried as their source of income is reduced to cattle feed. 

Choongkha village with around 10 households is located over 20 kilometres away from the Thimphu-Phuentshogling highway.

Usually, at this time of the year, 70-year-old Tshering Dorji reaps a bountiful harvest of vegetables from over an acre of land. The father of eight grows cabbage, cauliflower, maize and radish among other vegetables for commercial and self-consumption. However, this season, he is devastated as his vegetables were destroyed by the unfamiliar pests recently.

“I have been a vegetable farmer for almost six years and each year, I have tried to work a little more than the previous year. The yields were also good. A small portion of my vegetables was damaged by caterpillars last year. But this year, a moth-like pest has appeared out of nowhere. The bug is eating away my cabbages and cauliflowers. It comes in millions, especially at night. The bug eats the leaf first and lays eggs on it. Then a green caterpillar appears and eats the remains,” he said.

The pest also started damaging other vegetables adding to the problem.

“This pest is also destroying other vegetables too. My spinach and radish transplant leaves are all eaten by the same pest. They feed on it in infinite numbers.”

The gewog officials provided powder-like pesticides to the farmers but it did not help.

“We used the powder pesticide but it does not work at all. I have informed the village Tshogpa about it and he informed the Gewog Agriculture Extension Officer. They told us that the pesticides are not available at the moment and they will give us once it is available,” he added.

Unhappy with the outcome, like Tshering, other farmers in the village also shared similar stories.

“The regular pest is not that destructive. The new pest has affected us a lot. It especially destroys vegetables at night and eats all the cabbages and cauliflowers. All our hard work went in vain. I did all this hard work for nothing. The agriculture officers gave us a powder-like pesticide but it did not help at all. So there is nothing left to sell at all this season,” said Lham, a farmer in Choongkha.

“I will uproot all of these damaged cabbages and feed my cattle and I am going to plant maize. I will grow cabbages next season too and if the same thing happens, I will not grow them ever. We need help in terms of pesticides,” added Rigay, also a farmer in the same village.

Although the damage was done, the Gewog Agriculture Extension Officer told BBS that the liquid pesticide the farmers preferred was not available two months ago. He also said that the Gewog Agriculture Office will procure effective pesticides for coming seasons. For now, even after this hassle, farmers remain optimistic and hope that the pest infestation will not occur in the coming seasons.

Tshering Dendup

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