Upland Rice Cultivation Continues to Expand
Ugyen Dendup and Ugyen Gyeltshen
Every household living in Taraythang Geog is blessed with five acres of land granted as Kidu (gift) by His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in 2007. Land is no limitation for cultivation of crops to these farmers.
However, shortage of irrigation water is a major limiting factor for rice production. To give an alternative to the rice farmers of Taraythang, the Research and Development Center (RDC), Bhur in partnership with the Geog Agriculture Extension Center, initiated the demonstration of upland rice cultivation in 2011.
The work on upland rice was first initiated with support of the Biodiversity Use and Conservation Asia Program (BUCAP) project that aimed to enhance the on-farm conservation, development and utilization of arable crops mainly cereals. Ever since the successful demonstration of upland rice, Taraythang farmers have never looked back, and the area with upland rice has expanded from just two acres in 2011 to 50 acres in 2015.
In 2013, a devastating forest fire from Assam that reached Taraythang Geog severely damaged the main irrigation channel which further heightened the shortage of irrigation water for rice cultivation. Farmers of Pemacholing and Dorjitse villages were in an unbelievable dilemma when their water channel was destroyed and the cost of renovation was beyond their imagination.
In this time of need, the Geog Agriculture Extension Officer advised the farmers on upland rice technology and provided seeds of tested upland rice varieties. The senior rice researcher from RDC Bhur, Mr. Neelam Pradhan, initially recommended the promotion of two improved rain-fed rice varieties: Bhur Khamja 1 and Bhur Kamja 2. Recently, RDC Bhur identified and recommended another high-yielding rain-fed rice variety, Sukhadhan 2, introduced from Nepal.
Now, farmers of Taraythang have a choice of three high-yielding upland rice varieties. Depending on the variety, the productivity of upland rice in Taraythang Geog ranges from 1,400 kg/acre to 1,893 kg/acre.
The success of upland rice in Taraythang Geog is a direct output of the suitable upland rice technology developed by RDC Bhur and the Participatory Variety Selection (PVS) trials and demonstration which was further complemented by the active participation of the farmers.
The initiative on upland rice has greatly enhanced the food security of the farmers as well as the conservation, development, and utilization of rice. Apart from augmenting the household food security of Taraythang farmers, upland rice is substantially contributing towards the achievement of the11th five-year plan rice production target of Sarpang Dzongkhag.
The cultivation of upland rice has proven to be a climate-smart agriculture technology for adaptation to climate change especially when water for rice production is increasingly becoming scarce.
In the event of limited irrigation water for rice cultivation, farmers will have an alternative option to plant upland rice. With this success on upland rice, the BUCAP project stakeholders have expanded the on-farm conservation, development and utilization program on neglected and underutilized cereals like millet.
HARVESTS: Farmers’ Success Stories
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