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Farmers transplant paddy in Lobesa, Punakha
Farmers transplant paddy in Lobesa, Punakha

Weak monsoon hits farmers

A dry spell has halted farming activities for farmers in several gewogs of eastern, western and central parts of the country.

Although some farmers had already begun paddy transplantation, others are still awaiting rain.

Paro Dogar gup, Lhab Tshering said that only one chiwog in the gewog has transplanted paddy this year.

He said four chiwogs in the gewog have vegetable plantation to do. “We had a little rainfall earlier, and some people planted vegetables. Since there was no further rain, the farmers have incurred a loss.”

Gup Lhab Tshering said the vegetables from the gewogs are supplied to Thimphu and Paro. “This year we don’t think there will be much vegetables.”

The gewog, which depends on rainwater for agriculture has already conducted several rituals to appease the rain gods.

In the east, although several gewogs in Trashiyangtse were not affected by the dry weather this month, some villages in Toedtsho gewog are awaiting rainfall.

Toedtsho gup Dechen Wangdi said that the paddy saplings are drying as farmers wait for rain.

“We have enough water sources in the dzongkhag but the sources are far and can’t be brought to the farmers. If the budget ceiling is raised, we can connect the sources with irrigation channels.”

He added that if the irrigation channels were built, the farmers wouldn’t have to depend on rainwater.

While lack of rainwater is new to many villages, Guma gewog in Punakha has faced similar issues in the past. The dzongkhag administration had been pumping river water for irrigation.

Guma gup Ugyen Khandu said the water pumped from river serve about 70 percent of the farmers in the gewog.

The gewog office is developing an irrigation channel proposal. “Because the drains are old, almost all the water is lost on the way. After we talk with the relevant offices, we will put forward a proposal to resolve this issue,” Ugyen Khandu said.

National Centre for Hydrology and Meteorology (NCHM) identified the drier weeks due to a break monsoon phenomenon. Active and break phase of monsoon phenomenon are witnessed every monsoon season depending on the strength of moisture content in the wind blowing from the Bay of Bengal.

Deputy Chief of the Weather and Climate Service Division, Tayba B Tamang, said that during the active phase of monsoon, there is continuous rainfall over Bhutan with moisture feeding from Bay of Bengal while the break phase of monsoon has less or no rain. “Bhutan receives rainfall during the summer monsoon with the southwest wind bringing moisture from Bay of Bengal. The last couple of weeks, we experienced weaker monsoon.”

Break phase lasts for one to two weeks or more. Monsoon season in Bhutan normally begins from June and ends towards the end of September.

Tayba B Tamang said that according to the station’s data, monsoon after the onset on June has been active over the southern foothills. “The western, central and isolated places of eastern Bhutan is experiencing weaker monsoon for the past couple of weeks. The monsoon season over Bhutan is from June until September, as we are in the middle of monsoon period we might expect good monsoon over the next two months.”

During the fourth annual session of national climate outlook forum (NCOF-4), NCHM forecast the country to experience a normal monsoon and receive an average rainfall of 1,373mm.

Starting July 5, the NCHM also recorded a rise in maximum temperature by 5 to 6 °C over the western, central and isolated places of eastern Bhutan due to drier weather condition from the break phase of monsoon.

Tayba B Tamang said that besides the weaker monsoon that has resulted in increased temperature, there was also weakening western disturbance, which brings cold and drier air blowing from Jammu and Kashmir region.

Thimphu recorded a maximum of 31.5 degree Celsius until July 8 this year.

Highest temperature of 33 degree Celsius was recorded in the past in Thimphu dzongkhag. Light rainfall across the country is forecast for the next two to three days.

Phurpa Lhamo

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