Draught stalks Taplejung farmers

Sita Niraula

Taplejung, June 3:

Farmers in Taplejung district have been badly hit by a long spell of draught which has left their lands with wide fissures. Water sources have dried up, spiking any chance of preparing beds for paddy seedlings. According to farmers, paddy plantation in this district, especially on riverbanks, has to be done by the end of June for which seeds should be germinated by the end of May. In higher altitudes, however, farmers are ready to plant paddy. Apart from Nankholyang, Thechabu, Hangdewa, Fulbari, Khokling, Khamlung, Santhakra, Nidhuradin, Hangpangko, all the places in the lower region of the district are just waiting for rain to come. “Breaking clods into smaller pieces is all we can do,” said Kalpana Neupane, a farmer from Khamlung VDC. Chetan Khatiwada from Nangkholyang VDC said he was completely perplexed with the situation that instead of raining, temperature keeps soaring everyday. He said that a brief shower some days ago was followed by a storm and hailstone causing sizeable damage to fruits and crops instead. People have little hope of getting a maize yield as hailstones have destroyed the crops.

Balkrishna Neupane, a farmer from the district, informed that water sources have dried up and maize plants beaten by hailstorm are now withering. Purush Bhandari, a farmer from Nidhuradin VDC hinted that famine is likely to follow if rain does not come within a few more days. Meanwhile, farmers are supplying farm fields adjacent to rivers with river water in pots. Januka Pokhrel, from Hangping VDC-8, said that she has been carrying water to dampen

seedling bed from river Tamor which takes half an hour walk. She also gets her children fetch water from Tamor these days. Farmer in higher up places are equally affected by the dry spell. These farmers should have finished paddy plantation by the end of May, which has not yet been done. According to Prakash Kafle, assistant technologist at the office of district agricultural development, only 25 per cent of the plantation has been done so far. According to a report from the office of district agricultural development, 11,000 hector cultivable land in the district yields 2,654 metric tonnes of paddy annually during summer.