Poor yield for maize farmers in Trashigang

Besides armyworm infestation, lack of fertilizer for the plantation also affected the yield

Farmers in Trashigang are blaming the lack of fertilizer for the steep fall in maize production this season, besides armyworm infestation and natural calamities hampering the yield.        

Farmers all over the dzongkhag reported substantial loss in income this season.

For instance, Tshering Jurmi from Shongphu gewog used to earn an upward of Nu 30,000 from selling pounded maize every year, but this time he returned home with Nu 12,000.    

Other farmers from the gewog that Business Bhutan talked to are equally disappointed with the low yield this year. And maize being one of their main cash crops, some are mulling over working at the construction sites for additional income.

“Normally some of us supplement our income by working as wage earners but this time due to the pandemic everything has come to a halt in the construction sector,” said Cheda, a young farmer, who was worried whether he would find work.  

Besides armyworm infestation, lack of fertilizer for the plantation also affected the yield.   

“We did not receive urea fertilizer this year due to the pandemic, which affected the growth of the plant,” said Chimmi, adding his income from maize dropped from Nu 40,000 down to Nu 18,000 this season.

Meanwhile, the farmers of Changme village say due to the low harvest, many won’t be able to sell the crop.

“I just have enough to feed the cattle this time,” said Choden, 40, who also attributed her poor harvest to the absence of urea fertilizer. “Despite replanting for the second time, nothing is there.”   

Besides pounding the maize into karang, Choden also brews local ara for consumption and sale, which brought her over Nu 20,000 every season but this time without adequate surplus, her income would suffer.  

In absence of urea fertilizer, Dorji Lhamo had a difficult choice to make, whether to use pesticides or suffer low harvest, she chose the latter.

“Using pesticides would entail killing a lot of insects and bugs, which did not sit well with my conscience; hence, I decided not to use it,” she said, adding that she planted the maize twice and yet she has no surplus to sell.

She strongly feels that the availability of urea during cultivation makes a huge difference in the quality and quantity of the production.       

Meanwhile, Tshewang Gyelmo, the dealer of urea in Shongphu gewog, expressed her regret for failing to provide the fertilizer on time but cited the current pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns, not to mention border closure with India as the reasons for her failure.  

She hopes to provide the fertilizer by next season and is assessing the current market price of urea. 

Tenzin Lhamo from Trashigang