Male Iron Rat Year

Chimi Dema | Tsirang

In 2020, with the tourism and allied sectors hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic, Tsirang saw many of its residents who were working in the bigger urban areas returning home to engage in commercial farming.

In Kilkhorthang gewog, a freelance cultural and nature guide, Nima Tshering, returned to his village in April last year to begin commercial vegetable farming. Migma Dorji Lama, from the same village, returned home in May to look after family farming.

A thangka painter and exporter, Minjur Dorji, returned to Gosarling in the same month to help his parents and  take up commercial farming.

Following the establishment of the National Cottage and Small Industry (CSI) Development Bank in February, more than 30 people from Tsirang applied for the loan by May.

The majority of the applicants were those engaged in agriculture and livestock-related activities such as vegetable production, food processing, dairy, layer poultry farming and procurement of agriculture equipment.

Known for mass production of crops and vegetables in the country, Tsirang did well agriculturally in last year despite the global pandemic. The supply of vegetables and livestock products from Tsirang continued even during the nationwide lockdowns.

During the second nationwide lockdown from December until January, the dzongkhag supplied more than 15 bolero truckloads of vegetables and thousands of cartons of eggs to neighbouring dzongkhags.

The dzongkhag produced about 3,538MT of vegetables.

However, mandarin export was hit hard. For the first time last year, many farmers in the dzongkhag struggled to find buyers. The orange export from Tsirang could not be initiated before December 13.

In the Iron Rat Year, Dagana’s biggest achievement was receiving the budget to begin its much-awaited tourism programme. Now, the dzongkhag could witness thebeginning of tourism programme with the development of 56km Dagala trekking route from Genekha in Thimphu to Dagana, worth Nu 5 million .

Another aspect of tourism promotion in the dzongkhag, developing homestays in villages has been almost completed. The TCB supported a Nu 2M project providing basic amenities to develop 21 homestays in Dagana.

The year gone by also saw a major road improvement both for national highways and farm roads in the dzongkhag.

In what came as a relief to commuters along the Sunkosh-Dagapela highway, work to resurface the 44km road began from September last year.

The work progress, however, has been minimal due to the Covid-19 pandemic and heavy monsoon rains. But resurfacing the road is in full swing. The project worth Nu 104M also includes blacktopping of seven-kilometrestretch from Dagapela towards Goshi gewog. The work, according to an Executive Engineer with Dagana division of DoR, Pema Choeda, would be completed within a week.

The blacktopping of 18.8km farm road in Khebisa and 24km stretch of road in Lajab were also executed in the year.

Towards the end of the year, Dagana and Wangdue dzongkhag officials signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to construct a new road between the two dzongkhags.

The 20.29km stretch between Wogayna village in Wangdue’s Daga gewog and Lhaptsakarchu village of Tseza gewog in Dagana would reduce travel time and distance between the two dzongkhags. The road would, in particular, will benefit residents of three gewogs of Tseza, Khebisa and Kana in Dagana.

One of the highlights of the year has been agriculture land development project, funded through the Green Climate Fund (GCF). The project is developing 224 acres of wetland and renovating a 3km Tshainzhigosa irrigation channel in Lhamoidzingkha.

In Tsangkha, identified as a climate-smart model village, a project is converting 107 acres of dry land belonging to 55 households to wetland. In Drujeygang, land development on about 225-acre land in Pangserboo has also begun.

With the project running into its second year, activities worth Nu 49.827M like supplying of 16 pre-fabricated poly houses and 34 rolls of plastic mulches, and construction of six bio-digesters for integrated pest and nutrient management were identified.

To address vegetable shortage in the country, the dzongkhag’s agriculture sector also focused on growing chilli, tomato, onion and cauliflower in the year of the Rat. A total of 967 households in Dagana cultivated cauliflower, tomato, onion and chilli as agriculture sector prioritised crops. About 225-acre land was identified for growing chillies in the dzongkhag.

The people of Dagana contributed thousands of kilograms of vegetables for the hotels used as quarantine facilities and other quarantine centres as well as to frontline workers when the country was hit hard by the pandemic.

The Year of the Rat also brought some challenges. The dzongkhag witnessed some serious damage to crops due to incessant monsoon rains.

Thuenpa Puenzhi Soenam Detsen, a farmer’s group in Drujyegang gewog that transplanted off-season cabbage on more than one-acre land, lost most of their crop to rain in July. Similarly, many chilli growers in Lhamoidzingkha experienced transplantation failures due to heavy rain.

During the second community transmission of the Covid-19 in the country, Dagana recorded five positive cases from Lhamoidzingkha. Health officials conducted more than 1,500 tests.

The dzongkhag administration’s monitoring committee penalised two contractors for compromising the quality of a six-unit classroom building in Tsangkha MSS last week. The poorly constructed partition walls and reinforced concrete beams of the building were dismantled and ordered to rebuild them as per the required standards.