A rice specialist from agriculture research and development centre in Bajo, Mahesh Ghimeray said that one of the main problems in Bhutan is the low production base. “We’ve lots of forests and the wild animals attack the crops,” he said.
Another challenge is insufficient incentives for rice farming as it is cheaper to buy than produce rice, Mahesh Ghimeray said. “Wet land conversion to other land use and urbanisation are emerging challenges in Bhutan,” he said.
Rice constitutes 53 percent of daily dietary energy requirement for Bhutanese. Bhutan cultivates rice on 53,055 acres and produces 85,090MT. An acre produces an average yield of 1.68MT.
Bhutan is not alone.
The region of South Asia could face rice shortage if measures are not taken on time, experts said.
Scientists and experts on rice from International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Bangladesh, Bhutan, and Nepal indicated that if conditions don’t improve to boost rice production it could impact not only South Asia but also global food supply.
They are in Thimphu to discuss ways to meet the rising demand for the staple food of the region through a project between the three countries.
An agriculture specialist, Tayan R Gurung (PhD) said, “The region grows 31 percent of the world’s rice and 18 percent of its wheat. Rice is the most important crop to regional food security.”
He said that to help ensure global food security and keep pace with the growing demand for rice, there is a need to increase production by 26 percent by 2035.
UN and IFPRI have projected that the region has to double food production to feed the population of 2-2.68 billion people by 2050, Tayan R Gurung said.
However, experts said rice production faces enormous challenges in the form of diminishing resources (land, water, and labour) and environmental threats, such as climate change, land and water degradation, and biodiversity loss.