Sunday, September 8, 2013

Grasshopper infestation in Gomkora

IMG_3339Both Neten Dorji and the dratshang have agreed not to spray pesticides

Six acres of sharecropped dratshang paddy fields have been destroyed within a month

Pestilence: Grasshoppers have infested and, in a month, destroyed over six acres of paddy fields of Gomkora dratshang in Trashiyangtse.

The infestation began over four months ago from Lakorlung in Tongzhang gewog. Lakorlung is located four kilometres above Gomkora on the way to Tongzhang gewog. “They didn’t attack crops in the beginning, with plenty of grass to feed on in the forests, but after the grasses grew harder, they hopped to the crops,” a villager from Korlung, Neten Dorji said.

The paddy fields in Gomkora are owned by the dratshang (monastic body), but cultivated on a crop-sharing basis with the villagers. This time, farmer Neten Dorji is working as a sharecropper with the dratshang. He signed an agreement to contribute around 1,500kg of the total 7,000kg harvest to the dratshang.

“Around Nu 10,000 that I invested in paddy cultivation is gone now with the infestation,” Neten Dorji said. “But I’ll still have to contribute the rice, since we have no such clause in the agreement exempting contribution if the crop is damaged.”

Despite the infestation, both Neten Dorji and the dratshang have agreed not to spray pesticides.

“Since, Gomkora is a popular sacred place, we won’t allow the use of pesticides for the sake of the lives of millions of insects,” a monk from Gomkora said.

Neten Dorji said the grasshoppers would be left alone in the fields as long as paddy harvest season lasts. “They’ll disappear on their own after the harvest season,” he said. “If we use pesticides, insects would die in the millions and so it’s not worth the trouble by taking so many lives by the holy site.”

Tongzhang gup, Tashi Dorji said that, except for the paddy in Gomkora, no major damage to either maize or paddy has occurred in Tongzhang.

“Since maize has already attained its earing stage, the grasshoppers couldn’t damage much in the corn fields,” Tashi Dorji said.

The insects could not damage the paddy in Dukuling, because extension agriculture officers from six gewogs intervened with pesticides as punitive measure, he said.

Maize fields belonging to three households in Lakarlung were affected by the infestation. “The extent of damage in these households was also negligible,” Tashi Dorji said.

No reports of similar infestation have been reported in other gewogs of Trashiyangtse.
By Tempa Wangdi, Trashigang