Enhancing Food Security and Adaptation to Climate Change of a Farming Community at Taraythang, Bhutan
9 October 2015
Tarayathang Geog (the Lowest Administrative Block), under Sarpang Dzongkhag (District), is considered highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Rice is the main cereal grown by the farmers and is the main source of household food security.
However, rice cultivation entirely depends on the monsoon rains. In recent years, the community has been experiencing delayed and erratic monsoon, compelling the farmers to forego rice cultivation. Sadly, the development of assured irrigation system for rice remains a distant dream.
The Renewable Natural Resources Research and Development Center (RNR RDC) at Bhur, Sarpang, in partnership with the Geog Agriculture Extension Office (AEO), demonstrated the option of cultivating upland rice through the Biodiversity Use and Conservation Asia Program (BUCAP) implemented by the National Biodiversity Center (NBC).
The Biodiversity Use and Conservation Program (BUCAP)
To address the problem of water shortage, demonstration of upland rice cultivation which does not require water for transplanting was initiated in the community. First, a Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) of different upland rice varieties was started with eight farmers. These farmers were taught the techniques o¬f upland rice cultivation. They did PVS to select the best performing variety, which led to the selection of Bhur Kambja 1, a rainfed rice variety that requires much less water as it does not need water for puddling unlike other rice varieties cultivated in Taraythang Geog.
Upland rice nearing harvest
The accomplishments of the project was demonstrated to other farmers in Taraytahng through field days. Farmers of Taraythang were convinced with the results. Now, upland rice cultivation has picked up in the Geog with more and more farmers demanding for Bhur Kambja 1 seeds and the area planted with this variety has substantially increased (Fig 1).
The average grain yield of Bhur Kambja 1 is 3.64 t/ha which is almost comparable to the average grain yield of 3.86 t/ha obtained from the irrigated rice. In addition, this variety is early maturing, allowing farmers to plant another crop after rice.
The project has three key benefits to the farmers. First, they now have a new variety that can be grown with much less water and which can be successfully grown even when the monsoon is delayed. Second, the farmers’ household food security is enhanced. Finally, the on-farm rice diversity has been enhanced.
Gyeltshen, Agriculture Extension Officer, Taraythang Geog, Sarpang Dzongkhag
Neelam Pradhan, Senior Research Assistant, Renewable Natural Resources and Research Center, Bhur, Sarpang Dzongkhag
Sangay Tshewang, Senior Research Officer, Renewable Natural Resources and Research Center, Bajo
Tirtha Bdr. Katwal, Research Specialist, Renewable Natural Resources and Research and Development Center, Yusipang
Rinchen Dorji, Senior Biodiversity Supervisor II, National Biodiversity Centre