Aum Rinchen Lhamo, 54 is happy that double paddy plantation on her field is likely to yield well
Reviving a practice that died about a decade ago following security issues
It is not yet season for paddy transplantation, still a patch of paddy field in Phuntshothang gewog, Samdrupjongkhar already wears a green look amid brown untilled terraced surroundings.
It is only towards the end of May that farmers of the gewog begin tilling their fields and transplanting paddy sometime in June.
Samdrupjongkhar’s maximum rice growing dungkhag, Samdrupchholing (Bhangtar) has, this year, begun double-cropping and four households are experimenting to find out how the scheme fares.
Phuntshothang gewog lies at a lower altitude and has no water problem during winter and spring.
Gewog extension officer Choni Lhamo said since the gewog did not face water scarcity, they decided to give double-cropping a try.
“A few farmers approached me to try out double cropping,” she said, adding they then bought three varieties of seeds – 100kg of IR20913, 10kg of hardinand and 5kg of B2983B – from regional development centre in Bhur, Gelephu.
They were distributed among the four identified households.
On January 28, the seeds were nurtured in a nursery to raise them for transplantation, which was done on the first week of March.
A Phuntshothang farmer, Rinchen Lhamo said double-cropping was not a totally new thing for them.
She said the villagers had always been doing that a decade ago, which fizzled out gradually because of the militant and political problem in 2003.
“I’m trying it again after a long time not because my usual produce is insufficient to feed my family, but just don’t want to watch my land left barren during off-season,” she said. “It’s coming up well, but not as good as in the real paddy season.”
Rinchen Lhamo, who had seven children, has used about an acre of her more than three-acre land to grow paddy this time.
Another farmer, who chose not to take the risk of trying to transplant paddy this time, said growing paddy around this time of the year would expose the plant to pests. “Otherwise this is a good season where irrigation is left all to ourselves since other villagers are not using it,” he said.
Double-cropping was initiated this time, Choni Lhamo said because farmers of Samdrupchholing did not have to plough fields manually as they did in the past.
Farmers have membership with farm mechanisation centre since last year, which allows them to hire power tillers to plough fileds.
Depending on the terrain of their land, farmer are charged Nu 175 an hour as hiring fee.
The machines, agriculture officials said tilled about 50-decimal land within an hour, what otherwise took half a day with a pair of oxen.
“All seeds are improved varieties and were not grown here before,” Choni Lhamo said. “This will be our dry demonstration only. If it goes well, we’ll replicate it next year.”
Phunthsothang gewog has about 500 acres of paddy field.
Besides double-cropping farmers of Phuntshothang gewog have also begun growing mushrooms on straw starting this year in collaboration with regional development centre in Khangma.
However, only five households have tried growing mushrooms, which proved successfully.
Five farmers recently sold about 200kg of fresh straw-grown mushroom for Nu 150 a kilogram.
The four households that have tried double-cropping of paddy are waiting to tell tales of a similar success.