Nima | Zhemgang

The small village of Dungbi in Zhemgang has managed to plant paddy on time without facing irrigation and labour problems to date.

This is despite the farmers of the village not having proper irrigation system and the source of irrigation water hugely dependent on monsoon.

The farmers of this village under Trong gewog do not face a shortage of labours like in other parts of the dzongkhag, according to the farmers of Dungbi.

This is because of the age-old tradition called Chhukhor that helps the farmers do their paddy plantation in turn on time. The practice also brings together villagers during peak paddy plantation season.

The paddy plantation in the village is decided by their turn to get the irrigation water. The farmers said that they were following this irrigation water schedule since the time immemorial.

The routine starts on June 22. Yangzom from Dungbi gets the first two days to complete her paddy cultivation. If she misses her turn, she will have to wait for the whole village to finish Changla.

Jamtsho, 56, from Dungbi said that they had been practicing this for generations. “The irrigation water is well managed here. We don’t face any disputes related to irrigation water,” he said.

However, the farmers worry about decreasing irrigation water volume from the source, which is located a few kilometres away, at the top of their village.

“We receive enough irrigation water only during rainfall. This year we received good rainfall. We hope the water at the source would be increased,” said Jamtsho.

There are over 14 households in Dungbi. The farmers cultivate over 10 acres of rice annually.

Trong gup, Wangyel, said the whole gewog faced irrigation and drinking water problem. “Even schools and town has no proper water supply. But this is expected to change with integrated irrigation project coming up in the gewog.”

He added that there were no irrigation problems in Dungbi like in other places in the gewog so far.

“But, with climate change, we never know when will the village face the irrigation problem. The integrated irrigation project would benefit Dungbi village too,” said Wangyel.

Sither Dorji from Dungbi is one of the last households to start the paddy plantation in the village as per the routine. The water volume decreases when it is his turn.

“There was no severe water shortage but it’s difficult to manage weed in the field because there is no sufficient irrigation water after the plantation,” he said. “We have to use more herbicides which is not healthy.”

The farmers of Dungbi are ready for the paddy plantation by this time of the year. It takes one and a half month for the farmers to finish the plantation of the paddy.