Radhi awaits a new irrigation project

The gewog failed to meet its paddy production target because of lack of water

Agriculture: After repeatedly raising the need for a reliable irrigation system to the agriculture ministry, Radhi gewog might finally get one in the next few years.

A team from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) recently visited the water source area at Phajogonpa to explore the feasibility of coming up with a project that would help distribute irrigation water to almost 70 percent of paddy fields in the gewog.

Should the location be found feasible, Radhi gup, Jigme Namgyal said another team of experts would arrive to carry out detailed studies on the project.

“If everything turns out as planned, we were informed that the project could begin by 2018,” he said. “We are planning to tap water from Yudiri river.”

Radhi, popularly known as rice bowl of the east records the highest paddy production in Trashigang every year. However, the gewog couldn’t meet its annual performance agreement (APA) target of producing 1,000MT of paddy last year because of water shortage.

Construction of an irrigation channel went futile in 2012 when the flooding of Yudiri damaged it. Today, farmers depend on the rain-fed water source at Phajogonpa, which frequently remains blocked during monsoon.

The issue was also raised to Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay during his visit to the gewog in January.

“During peak farming season, farmers of lower Radhi don’t get timely irrigation water because water from the source is enough to cater only to farmers of upper Radhi,” the gup said. “ This immensely affects paddy production in the gewog. Otherwise, Radhi has the capacity to produce about 1,500MT of paddy a year.”

A farmer, Kuenzang Yeshey, said shortage of water is one major reason for the lesser paddy yield for farmers of lower Radhi. As transplantation is delayed for want of water, the yield suffers.

“We equally contribute labour while carrying out maintenance activities and yet we don’t get water from the Phajogonpa source,” he said. “ Coming of the project would help farmers improve production by at least 20 percent.”

Tshering Wangdi, Trashigang

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