Rice is the most important cereal crop for Bhutan. It supplies 53% of dietary energy in the Bhutanese diet. However, the country is only 45% self-sufficient and the remaining requirement is met through imported rice, mainly from India. Most rice grown in Bhutan is for private consumption or is sold within Bhutan. Only 7 MT was exported in 2014, compared to 1787 MT that was imported in the same year.
Rice is grown from the tropical lowlands (200 m asl) in the south up to warm temperate regions in the north (2700 m asl). As of 2013 the most important rice-growing areas are Samtse (5,682 hectares), followed by Punakha (5,074) and Wangdi Phodrang (4,202 hectares). Farmers grow mainly Bhutanese modern varieties like Bajo Maap 1 and 2, Bajo Kaap 1 and 2, Yusi Ray Maap and Yusi Ray Kaap.
There are diverse pests and diseases on rice in Bhutan. However, insect pests do not require any specific management, or do so only locally and rarely. One possible exception is armyworm which has severe outbreaks in some years. Insect problems can be minimised, and yields maximized by:
- Regular pest monitoring as most pests only have occasional, local outbreaks
- Using correct plant spacing
- Best practice application of fertilisers: split application through the year. Don’t over apply.
- Avoiding the use of insecticides. There are diverse natural enemies that normally are sufficient to keep natural enemies in check.
- Cultural control practices
The only serious disease is rice blast which caused major losses in the mid-1990s. The absence of further widespread outbreaks may be due to both the rarity of the required climate conditions and shifts to more resistant rice varieties.
One aquatic weed, shochum, is particularly important in rice as it can not easily be managed using existing weed management practices. Rice paddies are also prone to damage from wild pigs.