Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

In a major effort to solve irrigation water issues in Wangdue, eight projects—six to upgrade and two new constructions of irrigation channels—are expected to begin this fiscal year.

The projects, funded through the Green Climate Fund (GCF), are worth Nu 396.57 million (M).

According to Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer, Dhodo, new construction of irrigation channels in Phangyul and Gangtey gewogs were two major projects of the eight.

He said that today the current water source at Lachu, which is around 18km away from Phangyul, was not sufficient for the people. “As such irrigation water rotation period of 21 days in the gewog is one of the longest in the country signifying it to be the most water scarce gewog in the country.”

With almost 164 acres of land remaining fallow, Lumchi village and Phangyuel chiwog faces major irrigation water shortage. The chiwog has around 75 households.

According to Phangyul Gup Ugyen, in other parts, around 50 to 70 percent of the land was cultivated.  “Irrigation could be only done during monsoon. That too, paddy cultivation is usually late. The execution of this project will benefit the people to be self-sufficient and independent.”

With the GCF project, the gewog will receive water from Baychu located around 34km from the gewog. The project will benefit around 285 households.

A new irrigation channel construction from Mangchuka source will take place in Gangtey gewog.

Dhodo said that today although potato cultivation took place, the land remained barren even as the potato season was over.

He added that with the new irrigation water channel from Mangchuka, located around 5.5km away from the gewog, people could plant dry crops after the potato season was over.

Around 110 households are expected to benefit from the project.

In six other GCF-funded projects, irrigation channels will be renovated.

The project’s aim is to replace the traditional water channels (earthen) with pipes to avoid water loss on the way.

Renovation of Rukha irrigation water channel in Athang, Pangkabji irrigation water channel in Nyisho, Lachu irrigation water channel in Dangchu, Rinchengang irrigation water channel in Thedtsho, and renovation of the Ngawang Sechu irrigation channel in Rubesa are part of the project.

According to  Thedtsho Tshogpa Chador, the renovation work would help encourage people to continue double paddy cultivation in the chiwog.

He added that while spring paddy cultivation took place in January and February, the households in the gewog would also have paddy cultivation in May and June. “We had issues of water being lost on the way. There were landslides and people would have to do woola. People also had to go clear the channels every time paddy cultivation began.”

While surveys for almost all eight projects are completed, designing and consultation are underway. Work for the renovation of the irrigation channels is expected to complete this fiscal year.