Agriculture: The people of sixteen households of lower Langchenphu village in Samdrupjongkhar are in desperate need of a permanent irrigation channel. Growing paddy, their main cash crop, is increasingly becoming difficult without a dependable irrigation channel.

The choice the farmers are confronted with today is to convert their wetland to dry land or to give up growing paddy altogether.

Langchenphu is one of the highest rice producing villages in the chiwog and a major contributor towards achieving the annual performance agreement in terms of rice production in the dzongkhag.

With the lack of a functional irrigation channel, most of the villagers have already stopped growing paddy. As a result, fallow land in the village is growing.

This, the villagers said, is because their only traditional irrigation channel is damaged and is no longer useful.

What has remained today is largely memories of villagers coming together to help each other during the paddy growing seasons and of labouring to maintain the channel carrying water from Chhu Karpo to their fields.

Tshogpa Hom Nath said that heavy rains and the construction of a bridge above the village is also causing frequent landslides. “And the water is drying. Although the villagers have repeatedly raised this issue, it hasn’t got anywhere,” the tshogpa.

A farmer, Sikay Thapa said that damaged irrigation channel resulted in declined rice production in the village. Per acre rice harvest of about 70 mons (40kg equals a mon) declined to about 20 mons.

The villagers produce four types of rice: Khamtey, Aijung, Ranjit and red rice.

“We’ve tried everything possible, but it’s really not easy and now we really need the government’s help to come up with permanent channel” said Sikay Thapa, adding that it would be sad if they fail to pass paddy cultivation practice to their children.

The issue was raised during the last Dzongkhag Tshogdu and the villagers are hoping for a positive response.

The gewog administrative officer Chador said although the government stresses the importance of agriculture, the budget that the gewog receives is not enough to maintain the irrigation channel.

The gewog development grant could not be used because it has to be distributed equally among all the chiwogs.

“We’re hoping that the dzongkhag will look into the matter as the paddy cultivation is important for the dzongkhag,” Chador said.

Yangchen C Rinzin |  Samdrupjongkhar