Tshering Namgyal | Mongar

In the past five years, vegetable production in Tsaenkhar, Lhuentse has spiked from subsistence to commercial scale. It has become the primary source of cash income for the villagers.

Farmers said that the completion of a farm road has provided them with easy access to the market. They could transport vegetables and other farm produce to Autsho town within hours. The task was back-breaking and took more than five hours one way and was challenging.

With the road, marketing became even better after the farmers formed groups and signed contracts with the Autsho Central school. They also transported their produce in bolero pick-up trucks to the nearby markets.

The chairperson of a vegetable group in Fawantoed village, Pema Loday cultivates vegetables on more than five acres and earns Nu 400,000 to 500,000 annually.

“We can sell vegetables to Autsho Central school, and nearby Gyalpoizhing and Nganglam towns and we don’t have any market issues now,” said Pema Loday.

However, for some time now, villagers said that their farm road has fallen into disrepair causing them delays and safety issues.

“If the road condition is better it will cut costs and more people will come forward for large-scale farming,” a villager said.

A frequent driver, who usually travels two to three times a week along the road, said the road condition is so poor that he could drive mostly in gear number one.

Residents said the improvement of the road will also help reach emergency referral cases in time and save lives.

It currently takes more than two hours one way to reach Kharphu from Autsho and would take another half an hour to reach Fawantoed village.

Dekiling-Tshochen tshogpa, Tshewang Choden, said the road is riddled with potholes and takes about two hours to reach the village. “Only boleros can travel.”

She said that everyone in the village will benefit if the road is improved soon.

Although the gewog centre is located at Fawan, about five kilometres away from Autsho town towards Lhuentse on the Mongar-Lhuentse highway, most of the settlements are along the Autsho-Kharphu farm road.

Tsenkhar gewog has 68 gungtong (empty houses) and local residents said improvement of the roads would help retain the villagers.

Meanwhile, Tsenkhar gewog officials said the road had been identified for granular sub-base (GSB) this time in the second phase and it is expected to benefit the public once it is done.

Tsenkhar Mangmi, Choning Norbu, said the survey for the 19km road from Namdroling Goenzin Dratshang to Kharphu village has been done. The gewog is waiting for the budget release.

He said the road will benefit more than 250 households in the three chiwogs of Dekiling-Tshochen, Artobadeb-Gundrang and Autsho-Chabi with a population of more than 2,000 people.