With the months July and August experiencing continuous rainfall in Gangtey gewog, Wangduephodrang, the harvest of potatoes has been delayed substantially in the rich potato-growing region.
Farmers said potatoes are still not harvested and harvest usually gets over by the end of July or first week of August according to the farmers.
With farmers delaying their work in the potato fields due to continuous rainfall, this year’s harvest season is at a pause according to Sonam Dema from Gangtey gewog. She said, “By this time potato harvests should have been done as we have to prepare for turnip plantation.”
Despite farmers expecting a good yield this year, Sonam Dema said that the potatoes might rot if it is harvested in the rain. “Delaying in potato harvest will delay turnip plantation and even selling the products at the right time which will have a massive cyclic effect,” she added.
She shared that it became problematic with unpredictable weather in their farming routine. She said that sometimes rain stops for a while and thinking it might not rain further, farmers look for labourer.
She said, “We have to pay Nu 500 as wages per day but need to stop the harvest if there is rainfall which otherwise the potatoes will be spoiled.” She said that labour charges are wasted and works are not done due to rainfall.
Another farmer from the same village Karma Tenzin said that due to the monsoon season and heavy rainfalls, it is becoming difficult for the farmers to harvest potatoes. He said that at their warehouses since the sorting, processing, and packaging are done in open space and unexpected rainfalls are making it harder for the farmers to carry out their harvest work as planned.
He said that the potato should be harvested during the dry weather. “If harvested in rain, the potatoes will rot. Even if not rotten, there will be mud stuck to potatoes and it will not qualify for selling as per criteria of Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA).”
Karma Tenzin said that when the first official day of harvest should be around in the month of July and early August, heavy rain showers prevented farmers and their workers from heading outside. He said, “Now farmers are worried that delaying potato harvest will affect their vegetable cultivation rotation.”
Dopho from Tokha village under Gangtey gewog shared similar concerns. He said, “It is inconvenient to work in uncertain weather. After calling a labourer presuming no there would be a rainfall, but with sudden showers work got to pause paying full wages.”
“There are no ways to make up harvest days once you lose them. Usually we finish in the end of July or beginning of August, but everything is weather-dependent. There’s no set schedule,” Duptho said. “It’s hard to tell, but I’d say we’re getting close to halfway done.”
Currently, the potato harvest is underway in the affected states, but outside of a few harvesting delays due to the rain, the crop has remained unharmed.