Weekend market in Khuruthang town is filled with agriculture products from Bali village of Chubbu gewog, Punakha.

Farmers carry farm produces like chillies, beans and slippery gourd, locally known as Olachuto on their back for about 45 minutes to reach the nearest road head in Serigang. Some use horses to ferry the vegetables.

Farmers, however, fear the journey might take a longer time, as a private landowner asked villagers not to use the present route since a stretch of the route fell into his private land.

A villager explained that if they have to stop using the route, the travel distance would increase by 1.5kms to reach the road head. “As of now, they didn’t stop us completely.”

The village tshogpa, Kinley Bidha, said that the issue would be raised to the dzongkhag.

Villagers say their immediate need is a motorable road.

They say with favourable climatic conditions, they cultivate five types of rice during the paddy season.

They also said vegetable production increased in the last five years.

A villager, Damchoe Om, 41, said many people started growing vegetables and rice for commercial purposes with help from the agriculture sector.

She said that of about 27 households in Bali, only about seven own horses.

The horse owners charge Nu 100 and Nu 150 to carry the productions to the nearest road point. “Then we travel in taxi and pay Nu 100 for an individual and separate Nu 30 for luggage,” Damchoe Om said. “We spend about Nu 15,000 as travel expenses every year.”

Today, the gewog has been approved Nu 21 million (M) for road connection.

Tshogpa Kinley Bidha said that the dzongkhag is waiting for environment clearance and landowners. “We can expect the work to begin by the second year of the 12th Plan.”

Sangay Zam, 72, said she supports her grandchildren’s education through the sale of farm produces.

“My daughter died and her two children stay with me right now. And although it is difficult for me, I work for them. I don’t own any horse and it is difficult without a road connection.”

Bali village also has a shortage of irrigation water. During paddy season, the farmers take turns to water their fields from a small stream running through the village.

“And this stream dries up when it doesn’t rain,” tshogpa Kinley Bidha said. “We are currently looking for a water source from Gumgang, which is about 2 hours walk from the village.”

Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue