In the past few recent years, farmers of Radhi gewog in Trashigang, the rice bowl of eastern Bhutan, have seen increasing paddy yield.
Radhi is covered with thick blankets of green paddy and maize fields.
Of the total 1,258.91 acres of wetland in the gewog, 1,238.16 acres are under paddy cultivation. Because of this, Radhi gewog is also known as the ‘Rice Bowl of the East’.
In 2014, the gewog produced a total of 2,143.87MT of rice. The production increased by 2,383.33MT in 2015. In 2016, the gewog produced 2,409.68MT of rice and the production increased to 2,533.63MT last year despite challenges from human-wildlife conflict and lack of labor.
Farmers attributed the increase in yield to timely rainfall, which is necessary for paddy cultivation.
Radhi Mangmi Pema Wangchuk said that production has increased comparatively because of the use of power-tillers and natural manure (cow dung). “With the help of power-tillers and natural manure the quality of the soil has also improved, resulting in better harvest.”
Additionally, he said that timely monsoon is the main factor contributing to a good harvest in the gewog. “This year also we are expecting a good harvest since we are receiving timely rainfall.”
Karma, a farmer said that Radhi is known for producing one of the largest quantities of rice in the east. “Radhi is also known for producing different varieties of rice and the gewog produces some nine varieties of rice some of which are highly regarded in the country today.”
The demand for Radhi rice is high and rice from Radhi fetches Nu 65 to Nu 75 a kg. This has encouraged farmers to cultivate on larger swathes of land and to increase production.
Meanwhile, Radhi Mangmi said that using mechanized technologies like power-tillers has helped farmers to increase their production and to work harder.
“The production is further expected to increase in the future with the help of mechanized technologies,” he added.
Another farmer said that since the demand for Radhi rice is high and the market is good, it has encouraged farmers to produce more rice.
Paddy cultivation starts in May and June and is harvested by the end of September and October.
Radhi gewog has 21 villages with 758 households and a total population of 5,437.
Jigme Wangchen from Radhi, T/gang