It was about a decade back when villagers of Dechheling gewog cultivated paddy in abundance on about 100 acres of land. Today, however, the land is fallow and barren.

This is attributed to the lack of an irrigation canal and drying up of nearby water sources, among other reasons.

The gewog was otherwise known for its mass paddy cultivation.

The sight of fallow land became an eyesore for many who returned to their village on holidays.

This is why a group of villagers, who are also members of a vegetable cooperative, have decided to revive the paddy land on a trial basis with the help from the gewog agriculture officer.

Gewog agriculture extension supervisor, Pema Chorten, said the initiative is being pursued to determine the possibility of reviving the land using only a certain portion of it in Pelithang village.

“We’ve already proposed for about 300kg of paddy seeds to the dzongkhag,” he said. “The main objective is to try not to leave the land fallow apart from reviving it with the expectation that paddy cultivation will pick up slowly.”

He said that although the area is marshy, they will have to look for a source that could supply irrigation water.

The villagers will sow seeds by April and transplant paddy by June.

According to gup Sonam Rinchen, the lack of an irrigation canal discouraged farmers from cultivating rice. “All the land is private and it is registered as kamzhing (Dry land).

He added that even the Peling tsho (lake) that used to provide water for paddy cultivation dried up.

Sonam Rinchen said the villagers have always expressed interest to revive paddy cultivation if there is support and assistance from the government.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay also shared the same concern on the fallow land during his visit to Dechheling after some of the youths shared their interest to revive paddy cultivation.

Some of the villagers said they stopped cultivating a few years ago when they were informed that a project on lake conservation would be implemented in the locality.

“This was also partly why people lost interest in paddy cultivation and the land became barren,” a farmer, Wangchuk, said.

Wangchuk said that they are willing to work on the land if the government provides modern technology and technical support. “With the gewog now connected by road, we will be able to market our rice.”

Meanwhile, the agriculture ministry recently supplied an additional power tiller to the gewog and farmers hope to utilise the machine for paddy cultivation.

Yangchen C Rinzin | Nganglam