Villagers in Ghaling optimistic about better maize production this year

Some villagers say last year’s maize production was hampered by armyworms

With the month of March having come to an end and signs of rain becoming more ostensible, the villagers of Ghaling in Trashigang have started sowing maize for the year.

They are optimistic that the production this year will be better compared to the previous year.

Maize is, meanwhile, an important cereal in eastern Bhutan and it is the second most important cereal crop after rice.

While some villagers struggled to grow maize due to armyworm infection last year, the villagers are positive this time. From about 70 households in the village, about seven households have completed sowing maize in their fields.

Villagers from Ghaling say that it is better to start maize planting within the early planting season to fetch good prices in the market.

While villagers usually sell most maize in the market, they keep a certain portion to feed the animals.

According to the farmers, about 70% of the maize production are either sold in Trashigang or Rangjung at Nu 40 for 1.5kg of maize cereal. About 20% of the harvest is used by households to mix with rice for consumption and some are kept as seeds to be sown next year.

The villagers say about 10% of the harvested maize are either used for feeding the animals or used while exchanging with other edible goods.

A farmer in Ghaling, Lobzang, who has completed sowing maize with the help of others, said the rain has arrived on time this year.

“Even the soil looks fertile. I think they are positive signs for a good production this year,” he said.

However, Lobazang added that he is worried about the wild pigs, porcupines and other wild animals, which usually damage his maize cultivation despite the solar wirings being put in place.

“There were also some issues in the village about the worms that infected maize production last year, and the production was almost damaged by 50%,” Lobzang added.

While they had a bad experience last year, another farmer, Duba, said the villagers are hopeful that the maize production this year will be better.

According to him, from a harvest of 4,000kg of maize last year, about 50% were damaged by wild animals.  

Another farmer, Jigme Wangdi, said about 40% of his maize were destroyed by wild animals and some were affected by the armyworms last year.

He said to avert the experience of the previous year, he has put in an application to the gewog office for solar wiring fencing, which he thinks will be approved as it is something needed during the plantation season.

“The gewog office has told us that they will provide help to overcome the problems like that of last year,” Jigme Wangdi said.

Meanwhile, other residents of the village are also waiting to sow maize.

A farmer, Thinley, said they are hopeful that they will get help from the gewog office to fight against the armyworms.

Meanwhile, farmers in the village were able to sell a truck load of maize despite the armyworms hampering production last year. 

Sonam Tashi from Trashigang