Agriculture: Paddy cultivation in the two chiwogs of Yobinang and Changmey under Shongphu gewog is gradually picking up after the coming in of a new irrigation channel last year.

Funded by the Government of India, the 5km long irrigation channel from Yobinang to Shekpashing caters to more than 200 households in the two chiwogs.

Shongphu Gup, Kinzang Wangdi, said that scarcity of water had forced many farmers to give up paddy cultivation while fields were left fallow for years. Farmers who continued were entirely dependent on rainfall.

“By the time the rainy season started, farmers would be late by months to transplant paddy. This directly affected the yield and many had to call it quits,” he said. “After the irrigation channel was constructed, about 30 percent of the fallow fields have been revived.”

Changmey Tshogpa, Tshewang said paddy production has drastically improved in the two chiwogs today. Farmers producing about 600kg of paddy in the past produced more than a metric tonne last year.

“In the past, it would take almost two days to irrigate the fields of just one household.  Farmers had to wait for turns to irrigate their fields,” he said. “Some had to wait for more than two months has led to poor harvests. It has become convenient now.”

Meanwhile, some farmers in the lower parts of Changmey who have their paddy fields around the Shekpashing area said that inadequate and untimely irrigation water still delayed transplantation today.

“Because the water source is small, water coming to our chiwog is blocked by the villagers of Yobinang. Otherwise, we can even harvest paddy two times a year here,” he said. “We didn’t receive adequate irrigation water last year while this year, some of us are yet to start transplanting paddy.”

Gup Kinzang Wangdi said the issue has come to their notice and that water caretakers have been asked to look into the matter.

“Because of the erratic rainfall, Yobinang villagers must have resorted to blocking the water coming towards Changmey,” he said. “Otherwise, water from the source is enough to cater to both the chiwogs.”

Tshering Wangdi | Trashigang