Neten Dorji | Trashiyangtse

The wait was long. But it was worth it.

Farmers of Melongkhar, Yalang gewog in Trashiyangtse waited for five years to see their irrigation canal renovated, but they are already reaping the benefits of a simple, yet important infrastructure. The 8.2 kilometre long canal is going to change the way farmers work and the yield they reap.


Newly built irrigation canal at Melongkhar in Trashiyangtse

It is the paddy transplantation season and water is important for the cereal that can only grow with plenty of water. All in a cheerful mood, 53-year-old farmer Karsang and his friends are preparing the fields. The canal that runs above his fields has water. “We can cultivate more,” said Karsang who lost a good portion of his crop last year because of water shortage.

The canal, the lifeline of the village with 353 households was renovated with support from the agriculture department, dzongkhag and gewog administration. It was completed in mid 2019.

Karsang said it took more than two hours for water in the canal to reach his fields and at least 50 percent is lost from seepages. “We are relieved now. Whenever water is needed, we can irrigate and direct the water to others if we have excess.”

The rehabilitation and improvement of the 8.2 kilometres section of the canal took five years to complete. A budget of Nu 45.7 million was allocated. The entire irrigation scheme, including smaller internal canal that take water from Chokpogang to irrigate 953.89 acres of farmland in five villages including Melongkhar.

Most of the households in Yallag gewog cultivate paddy, where over 90 percent of the families earn their livelihood by working in the fields and keeping livestock. They sell rice and buy essential items for their families.

“The villagers are already seeing an improvement in their farming since the rehabilitation of irrigation canal,” said Mangmi Tshering Tobgay. “The project made positive changes and improved the irrigation water system. Now its condition is much better than in the past.”

Yallang gewog has a total of 244.07 acres of wetland that produces 2,170 Metric tonnes of rice annually. Farmers are expecting more this autumn.