Neten Dorji | Khaling

Dang-ray juk used to be more than 50 acres of fertile terraces. Farmers from Bremang, Dawazor, and Khordung villages in Khaling who cultivated paddy there reaped bountiful harvests.

That was a few decades ago.

The paddy fields were gradually neglected as farmers battled increasing human-wildlife conflicts each year and the irrigation canal fell into disrepair. Forests and bushes swallowed the once lush green fields.

A villager, Tawmo said repeated flash floods damaged the irrigation canal and the villagers could not repair it. It needed many days of free labour every year to keep it functional.

The flash floods damaged the irrigation canal and farmers could not repair it. Shortage of manpower and absence of young people in the villages to take up the farming activities also led to land remaining fallow.

“Frequent wild animal attacks worsened the situation,” she said.

With new technologies available today, farmers feel their problems could be solved.  They said the area is fertile and reviving the fallow land could help improve their livelihoods. The area belongs to more than 30 households.

Villagers say a proper irrigation canal and electric fencing could help them.

“If we can get a budget to improve the canal and electric or chain-link fencing, we are ready to contribute free labour,” a farmer, Pelden Wangmo said.

Cheten Tshering who owns a plot at Dangray Juk said that most of the villagers would resume cultivation if the gewog administration helped develop the land and revive the irrigation canal.

“I won’t have to buy imported rice once I cultivate the land again,” Cheten said.   “The people would benefit immensely if the gewog would develop the land because the people here mainly depend on agriculture.”

Khaling Gup Sonam Dorji said that the gewog has plans to restore the irrigation canal. The gewog is planning to revive fallow land.

“We are planning to propose a budget to the Department of Forests and Park Services. Wild animals maraud the fields often and damage the crops out here,” he said.