Agriculture is Bhutan’s mainstay. For more than 60 percent of people who live in the rural pockets of the country, it is more than just important. It is what keeps them alive.
Yet we seem to give more importance to development activities that hampers agriculture production in the villages. Development activities are important, yes, but they should not affect the lifeline of our farmers.
Roads cutting through irrigation channels affect the farmers who depend on their fields entirely. It is not only the people of Baap Gewog who are facing lack of water because a road project has disturbed the irrigation channel. There are many villages that are going through the same problem.
It appears that we are getting our priorities wrong. We don’t seem to look at the immediate and long-term impact when we plan development projects in the villages. As we continue to lose our precious little arable land to urban development, protecting those in the rural areas becomes vitally important.
One of the main reasons why people leave their homes in the villages and come to towns to eke out a living is lack of water. In Pemagatsel, for example, shortage of water is severe in many villages due to which many farmers have left their fields fallow. Rural to urban migration is already one of the issues that is fast becoming a social burden.
Water is important for agriculture and we need to explore way to make it enough for the farmers. When development activities disturb irrigation channels, farmers in the villages feel the direct impact. Planners, therefore, need to weigh pros and cons of taking developmental activities to the villages, because what affects agriculture will affect the country and its economy.
It is important that we give not only lip service to the development of agriculture in the country. When increasing number of farmers leave their land fallow due to lack of water to irrigate their fields, the nation’s aim of achieving food-security and self-sufficiency is at stake.
Let there be water enough to irrigate our fields.