Irrigation: To resolve the recurring irrigation water shortage problems in the two gewogs of Teowang and Guma in Punakha, the agriculture ministry is looking at the feasibility of constructing water-harvesting structures.

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji during his visit to the gewogs that facing irrigation water shortages also visited three potential sites for water-harvesting structures on June 27. The minister said the feasibility study will be conducted soon.

Lyonpo said the ministry would either send technical experts to conduct feasibility studies on the sites or would ask the research centre in Bajo to carry out the feasibility study.

The main objective of water harvesting is to help resolve the irrigation water shortages of the two gewogs that is a problem every year especially if it doesn’t rain during paddy transplantation time. If found feasible, farmers could also use it for other agriculture purposes, said Punakha’s agriculture officer Karma Tenzin.

He said three of the water-harvesting sites are in Dawakha chiwog in Tewang gewog, and one in Guma gewog. In Guma it is expected to benefit the entire Changyul area.

Karma Tenzin said that since the irrigation water shortage problems in these gewogs are a recurring issue it requires a long-term solution. Water harvesting is one of the recommended solutions that would help mitigate the shortages in the long run.

He said for this year, they have provided nine water pumps in the four gewogs of Barp, Chubbu, Guma and Teowang to help irrigate remaining paddy fields where paddy transplantation is yet to occur. Currently irrigation water is being pumped from river.

Lyonpo assured water-pumping assistance where it is feasible and that the service would continue until the farmers no longer need it, Karma Tenzin said.

He said that within the last seven days, around 40 acres of paddy fields have been irrigated with the help of nine water-pumps benefiting 68 farmers in four gewogs. One of the two pumps supplied to Chubbu gewog, however, has broken down.

Local leaders said the problem is not dire if it rains on time, but this year due to scant rainfall the paddy cultivation in four gewogs have been delayed, and if not for the water pumps many farmers might have had to leave their fields fallow.

Last week the dzongkhag even conducted a Kanjur-Lingkor ritual to bring rain.

Unlike Teowang and Guma, water shortage is not a problem but highway road widening had damaged the gewog’s irrigation channel. More than 600 acres of paddy fields were dependent on that irrigation channel. However, the roads department agreed to fix the problem on completion of the widening works.

Dawa Gyelmo | Punakha