Best time to travel to Bhutan

Rice Harvest in Bhutan

Learn the story of rice—where it grows and how it is manually harvested in Bhutan

Best time: November

Rice Harvest
Rice Harvest
Rice Harvest

Rice is one of the main agricultural products in Bhutan and agricultural works engage almost 80% of the population. When it comes to harvesting rice in November, many families join this activity.

In terms of natural beauty, rice fields do not offer great colours, as stacks of rice dry fast and turn light brown, but harvesting rice is a real journey into the ancient traditions of Bhutan, as even today no technologies are used in the collection process. Men and women make all preparation work on the field—they crop plants, fold them in sheaves, and let them dry in the sun. The dry sheaves are beaten, and chaffs are separated from the rice grains. It is a great journey and a lesson for many people, who only see rice already packed in stores. The biggest growing areas of rice in Bhutan are Samtse and Sarpang.

A special sort of rice to try in Bhutan is red rice. Its taste is softer, and the rice stays pale pink after cooking.

Practical info

When is the ideal time to witness rice harvesting in Bhutan?

Rice harvesting in Bhutan peaks in November, presenting the best period to witness the process. This period sees many of the country's farming families out in the fields, diligently collecting crops in an exhibition of hard work and traditional methods. Witnessing this unique way of life provides a memorable experience for any visitors. Show more

What are the primary locations for rice cultivation in Bhutan?

Bhutan's largest rice cultivation areas are primarily concentrated in Samtse and Sarpang. These regions boast the perfect conditions for growing rice such as fertile soil, proper precipitation, and an abundance of sunshine. Here, visitors can marvel at the extensive rice paddies and catch a glimpse of the harvest before it is processed into the staple food of the country. Show more

What is the process of rice harvesting in Bhutan?

The process of harvesting rice in Bhutan is one steeped in tradition. Local men and women work manually, carefully cutting, bundling, and drying the plants under the sun. After drying, they use a wooden tool to beat the sheaves against a hard surface, separating the rice grains from the plants. The grains then pass through a basket before winnowing to remove the remaining chaff. Show more

What are the steps involved in the traditional process of harvesting rice in Bhutan?

Harvesting rice in Bhutan using traditional methods involves several steps, such as cutting and bundling the rice plants and allowing them to dry under the sun. The rice grains are then separated from the plants through a process known as pounding. Once separated, the grains are then added to a basket and winnowed, removing any remaining debris. This time-consuming process showcases the unique culture and traditions of the Bhutanese rice harvesters. Show more

What are some of the popular dishes prepared using red rice in Bhutan?

Red rice is a staple in Bhutan's cuisine, and it's featured in many of the country's popular dishes, including the national dish, Ema Datshi, which comprises chili mixed with cheese served over a plate of rice. Other favored Bhutanese rice dishes are kewa datshi, mushroom datshi, and phaksha paa, a spicy dish of pork and red rice combined. Show more

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