It is harvest time across the country. Farmers are busy reaping the fruits of their hard work. It is a beautiful scene seeing farmers threshing paddy in the autumn sun.
However, despite the beautiful scenes they create, some farmers are not as happy as many assume.
The yield is not only determined by how much hard work was put in. Natural phenomena like shortage of rain that in turn determine availability of irrigation water is crucial in how much gold, like farmers say, they reap by the handful.
Farmers are not aware of climate change, but they are assured that climatic pattern is changing and leading to erratic rainfall hampering cultivation.
Remote Tsephu villagers are busy working as day workers in the lower valleys of Punakha. This year it did not rain much and most farmers delayed their paddy transplantation. This autumn, when others are harvesting their paddy, farmers in Tsephu are harvesting the unripe paddy only fit to feed cattle. The farmers have informed the gup, but they were informed that there is not much the local government could do.
Some farmers are sharecroppers and depend on rice for both food and cash. With the paddy gone to waste, they are worried how to see the end of the year. They will have to cultivate again and that will cost them. Some farmers have lost all. For instance, one farmer said she used to harvest around 3,200 drey of paddy (one drey is about one and half kilogram of paddy). She is at total loss.
The new government can expect the farmers to see them. Farmers need help and help is what the government promised them when they visited the villages for votes. The government has promised uninterrupted irrigation water. This will help farmers, but at the moment, with one year’s harvest lost, they need some form of compensation.
Crop damages by natural disasters like storm or flood are compensated. There is a disaster in Tsephu. Farmers need to be compensated to see the year through, even if not for votes.
One of the nation’s priorities is food self-sufficiency. Governments, pasts and present value this. That’s why they have a lot of pledges on improving agriculture. If the government wants to help farmers stay in the villages producing food, they need help.
Given the unpredictability of nature, farmers are at the mercy of nature. It is the government who can help them through policies and sometimes by compensating what they lost to nature after a year round hard work.