Dagana, which usually receives rainfall at this time of the year is seeing no rain.

Farmers of Tseza and Khebisa gewogs say they are hit hard by drought this year. They claim they were only able to cultivate less than half of their wetland.

A farmer in Tseza, Passang Lhamo, who owns about two-acres of wetland in four locations, said she transplanted paddy in only two locations that have five and 15 terraces.

The water source, where Passang and 30 other farmers draw irrigation water from, is two hours walk away.

She said the source has dried up since there was no rainfall this year. “We borrowed irrigation water from other four households to cultivate a little bit of wetland.”

Passang said her family couldn’t afford to leave their land uncultivated because rice is the only source of cash income for them. “Cultivation season is almost over and we see no sign of rain. This is really worrying us.”

Tseza gewog mangmi, Rickey, said the gewog has almost 5,000 acres of wetland and rice is the main source of income for the farmers.

He said people sell more than half of their harvest.

“But so far, less than 1,000 acres has been cultivated,” Rickey said. “Other than paddy, farmers rely on cardamom for income but in Tseza gewog only about 20 farmers grow cardamom.”

Of the five chiwogs, only Pel-ling could cultivate paddy in their fields. The other chiwogs like Tashigang, Samaed, Karling-dzingkha and Tsanglekha are dry.

Rickey said farmers are worried what they will eat next year. “There is nothing the gewog can do.”

He added that every chiwogs has a separate irrigation facility. However, the volume of water in the irrigation canal has drastically decreased compared to last year. In Tseza, each household owns more than 50 decimal wetland. The gewog has 170 households.

Khebisa gewog has a similar issue. With the little volume of water in the irrigation canals, farmers could manage to cultivate half of their paddy field.

Khebisa gup Namgay said the gewog has about 250 acres of wetland. “Of that, about 150 acres have been cultivated, which is less compared to what was cultivated last year.”

He said it is worrying to see the cultivated paddy fields drying up because there is no water. “At least 50 percent of the transplanted paddy is dying. It has started turning yellow.”

The gup said most people in his gewog also sell rice for cash income and the dry spell will severely affect their income. “Even if the paddy survives, the yield will be less.”

Farmers say they could still cultivate if it rains in another week or two.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang