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A woman weeds her drought-hit potato field in Rimta Dorgen village
A woman weeds her drought-hit potato field in Rimta Dorgen village

Dry weather worries potato farmers in Chapcha

The absence of rain has weakened potato plants of Rimta Dorgen village in Chapcha, Chukha. 

Unlike the green fields usually seen by the second weeding time today, the fields are patches of green and brown.

Farmer, Dorji Gyeltshen, 58 said there was no rain for some time.

“It only rained the night after the poll day,” he said.

Showing different patches with healthy potato plants and dying plants, Dorji Gyeltshen said Chapcha’s potato production has deteriorated this year again. The harvest was not up to the mark last year, he said. 

He said he sold about 60 bags in Phuentsholing last year. A bag weighs at least 50kgs. “If everything goes as planned without any problem, I would be able to produce 200 bags,” the farmer said. “But this year won’t be good either.”

Rimta Dorgen tshogpa Sonam Penjor said that less rain was the main problem.

“Those patches of fields that are doing good are the ones we watered,” the tshogpa said, adding that the water was brought from small streams nearby.

He said the potato leaves start drying and fall easy victim to pests. Unlike other vegetables, the tshogpa said it was difficult to water potato fields.

Following the recent rain, villagers are busy weeding the crop. Rimta Dorgen villagers have currently teamed up into groups of 15 to 20 people and work on one field at a time as is traditionally practiced.

“We form a team and work on one person’s field until it is over,” tshogpa Sonam Penjor said, explaining they then move to contribute labour in another field.

It is Gyem Dorji’s turn to get the village help with the second weeding.

“It is difficult to say about the potato growth this year,” he said. “But it’s been definitely a dry year.”

It rained last night, Gyem Dorji said, adding there was another small drizzle about a week ago, which has helped. With a good rainfall, the farmer explained that pests would not survive.

Almost every farmer in Chapcha grows potato. There are about 130 households in Rimta Dorgen and all grow potato as the main cash crop. 

Rajesh Rai | Chapcha

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