… Farmers preparing to cultivate paddy after 3 years

Nim Dorji | Trongsa

Farmers of Wangling village in Langthel gewog, Trongsa are preparing to cultivate paddy as the restoration of their only irrigation canal that was damaged more than three years ago inches to completion.

The 5km irrigation canal was damaged when a landslide swept away about 120 meters in 2018. The farmers maintained it. However, the following year it was completely washed away.

The canal could not be restored despite repeated attempts from the gewog and the farmers. Since then farmers were forced to leave more than 70 acres of fields fallow for almost three years.

The channel which cost Nu 1.2 million was constructed across a landslide-prone area spanning around 150 meters.

Langthel Gup Rinzin Wangchuk said that major restoration work of the canal was complete and handed to the gewog and the people, but still, more than 300 meters of work is left.

Gup said that to ensure 100 percent water supply, the irrigation canal needs to connect with the main source which is around 1.5 kilometres from the slide area. The gewog is planning to include it in the 13 five-year plan.

He added that for now, the gewog administration will ensure that the additional work on the canal is completed before paddy cultivation season to make sure the villagers cultivate paddy on time.

Villagers said that if the canal is connected with the source the problem will be solved.

Farmers said they had to buy imported rice and if the canal is not repaired on time this year, it would be worse for them. “With no shops in the locality, we have to walk for almost four hours to the nearest shop.”

Farmers switched to cultivating buckwheat, and wheat which need less water.

A farmer, Changmola left more than two acres of her fields fallow for three years. She bought and fed her family imported rice.

With more than half of the irrigation canal restored they are optimistic that they can cultivate paddy this year.

“The prices of the commodities keep increasing, it is difficult for us to buy. If we can grow rice, we can save a huge amount,” she said.

Another farmer, Sherub from Wangling said that until the landslide washed away the canal they did not buy rice. “But after the 2018 landslide, they could not cultivate paddy and had to depend on imported rice.”

Some farmers tried to cultivate paddy with rainwater but the yield was so poor.