Saturday, September 7, 2013

IRRI Toastmasters Club 9005 and Los Baños Community Toastmasters Club

IRRI Toastmasters Club 9005 and Los Baños Community Toastmasters Club
Club Contest: [Humorous Speech and Speech Evaluation Contest]

Area 78, Division K, District 75

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Commemorating 50 years from Dr Borlaug’s first visit

BGRI: Despite for four years of intensive wheat rust surveillance in Bhutan, no reports of it has been reported in the country.

The Borlaug’s global rust initiative (BGRI) has special interest in Bhutan mainly because it falls on the path of the wind direction where the wheat rust called Ug99 (stem rust) blows from Uganda towards the east.

Ug99 is the name of a stem rust, which arose from Uganda in 1998 and is predicted to be spreading rapidly. It has the potential to cause wheat production disaster affecting food security worldwide.

National plant protection centre’s (NPPC) program director Doe Doe said the Indo gigantic plains are immune to the rust spores, which are carried by the winds. “We also have varying ecological conditions within which we can see a species of shrubs called Barberry in our country,” he said. “Wheat and barberry can produce asexually, but barberry also allows sexual spores which means they can mate with the stem rust and produce different races of rust.”

The main danger, Doe Doe said is that the race would variate in mated rust and that is what the NPPC wants to study and see the cycle. “We have a conducive environment for rust multiplication and we could be receiving rust spores as we grow wheat throughout the year,” he said. “It is the main cash crop of some of our people and we have to keep importing from India but if we can’t control the wheat rust, it can spread down to India.”

BGRI held their fifth technical four-day workshop in New Delhi, India from August 19 where over 400 delegates from major wheat growing nations from all over the world attended the workshop.

The workshop discussed on building a global cereal rust monitoring system, keys to poverty reduction; food security and social welfare in developing nations; understanding the genetic landscape of stem rust; and perspectives on applied aspects of breeding for rust resistance among others.

Doe Doe said they are taking up this workshop to create an organic image and intensify cultivation, fight climate change by using water resources effectively and for food security. “People’s food habit and food basket are changing and if rice is not sufficient, we want to push wheat,” he said. “We can assess good varieties of wheat and right now our country produces three varieties called Bajoka 1, Bajoka 2 and Sonlika.”

Through BGRI, Doe Doe said they could train people and develop national capacity of researchers and surveillance officers with experts from BGRI providing technical expertise to the country.

“For example if we need help for wheat characterisation, we can either send our samples to the BGRI experts or they can come to Bhutan to study it,” Doe Doe said.

BGRI was launched in 2005 by late Dr Norman E Borlaug, the father of green revolution and a Nobel peace prize winner, who is also known as the man who saved a billion lives. With the BGRI technical workshop, India also commemorated Dr Borlaug’s legacy and 50 years from his first visit to India. Farmers remember him as a very kind, helpful and generous man who saved their lives by giving them seeds, which doubled their production.

BGRI’s chairperson and the daughter of Dr Borlaug, Jeannie Borlaug Laube said, “To advance his legacy and vision to alleviate hunger in the most sustainable and nutritious way, my father would urge us to harness all the tools of biotechnology that we have before us.”

The president of India inaugurated and commemorated the event on August 19 at the Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi, India. The workshop concluded on August 22.

By Sonam Choden, New Delhi

Source: Kuensel

Wetlands in want of water

With no water to irrigate the fields, the wetlands of Wanringmo in Ramjar, Trashiyangtse have remained fallow

Agriculture: With streams that irrigate the paddy fields drying, wetlands in three gewogs of Trashiyangtse – Ramjar, Toedtsho and Khamdang – are left fallow.

Cultivation in more than seven acres of paddy field in Wangringmo, Ramjar, stopped after the Bamnari stream dried up. “Cultivation ceased after Bamnari stream, the only water source for the fields, shrunk as it was channeled to the villages from upstream,” a villager from Ramjar said.

The water from Bamnari was drained into the villages, because the spring water that served for drinking water before dried up recently, he said.

Since then, the Bamnari that once provided enough water for irrigation to Wangringmo located downstream failed to supply abundant water for cultivation.

“The little water that flows downstream is only enough for a few landowners, while the rest of us downhill have no water,” another villager from Ramjar, Phuntsho said.

Wangringmo, located on the flat bank of Drangmechu, is known for its potential to grow chili earlier than others. While Wangringmo is the only wetland that has been left fallow in Ramjar, up to 300-400 acres of wetlands are left fallow in Khamdhang gewog for want of irrigation canal. Paddy fields in villages like Brenglung, Manla, Tshotsang and Shali in Khamdhang have also remained fallow for years from the lack of irrigation canals.

Khamdhang village, which once thrived with its wetland, has now turned its land into maize fields. “If we had water, Khadhang would be filled with paddy fields by now, because when we had water, everyone turned dry land to wetland,” a villager from Khamdhang, Sangay Wangdi said.

The villagers prefer rice to maize for staple food, he said, adding that, if they have access to water, they are still hoping to grow rice. “Villagers can no longer afford imported rice, the price of which keeps shooting up.”

From a total of 8,883 acres of wetland in six dzongkhags, 1,193 acres have gone fallow in the past ten years, according to a study by the research centre in Wengkhar under Mongar. If the trend continued, Bhutan would have no wetland in another seven decades. Fifty of the 69 gewogs in east imports 51 percent of the country’s rice consumption, the study pointed out.

But villagers of Khamdhang, anticipating water would flow into their fields one day, are still paying tax for wetland, which is double of that for dry land, although they have been growing maize for over 12 years now. The tax for an acre of wetland is Nu 24 annually.

“Most lands are fallow because of water shortage, besides other factors like rural-urban migration,” Khamdhang gup Ugyen Wangdi said. He said the fallowing multiplied after floods damaged the only water source from Buyang. The irrigation canal is still under repair. Ramjar mangmi, Karchung, said the gewog is planning to channel water to Wangringmo from Drangmeychu river using a water pump.

“For that, farmers also received training on keeping the fields engaged throughout the year rather than just paddy,” Karchung said.

Khamdhang, which continues to see an increasing area of wetland remaining fallow, would have water when the pending Buyang water supply is restored.

By Tempa Wangdi, Trashigang

Source: Kuensel

Upland Rice cultivation in Mongar, Bhutan

Deprived of wetland to cultivate paddy, villagers of Damkhar under Gongdue gewog in Mongar have resorted to cultivating it on dry land. The practice is called pangbara. These days they are busy weeding the plantation.

Source: Kuensel