Farmers continued to work with low wages until the project completed

Phurpa Lhamo | Wangdue

After working on an irrigation channel for about five months, 18 people from Gebaykha village in Daga gewog, Wangdue, managed to finally bring water to their fields.

Residents had been waiting for a new water source for decades.  The new identified water source is located in a forest 13km away from the village.

With only Nu 7 million (M) budget for the construction of irrigation channel through the Small Development Project (SDP), work was allotted to the community. Farmers who contributed labour were paid a daily wage of Nu 300.

Gebaykha chiwog tshogpa, Thinley Namgyel, said that although payment was less, farmers were willing to do the work as it meant bringing home irrigation water.

He said it was not an easy task to ready the channel. “Villagers had to hold night on the way. There were no trails and we had to pave a new path to the source of the water. Villagers had to spend several nights in the forest.”

People had to carry the materials on their backs on their way to the new source, as there was no trail for horses.

A farmer, Ugyen Dorji said that farmers in the beginning volunteered to look for a water source. “We packed our meals and went on for the search. On the fifth day, we found a source.”

In the past, irrigation began in June and went on until July due to lack of enough irrigation water. “Water from the new source fills up the fields within hours,” Ugyen Dorji said.

Wangdue dzongkhag procured materials such as pipes and also provided technical support.

The dzongkhag planning officer, Passang Dorji said that the new water source could also solve the village’s drinking water issue.

He said that the catchment area of the new water source was vast.

The water is expected to help 24 households in Gebaykha.

Daga Gup Nado said that lands were also developed in the chiwog. He added that the new source would also help the nearby village of Pinsa, where massive agriculture works are underway. “Tomatoes, onions are planted in the area right now.”

Pinsa has more than 20 households.

Although, the irrigation water has reached Gebaykha, the farmers are today awaiting installation of water tanks to help store water for drinking purposes.

Tshogpa Thinley Namgyel said that although water had reached the village, there were some fields that were not connected with proper irrigation channels.

He said that due to budget constraints, the channels couldn’t reach areas, which were scattered.

Meanwhile, work to renovate the irrigation channels in Taagsha-Silli chiwog is also ongoing.