Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

After more than a decade, 12 households in Rilangthang, Tsirang resumed paddy cultivation in the six acres of fallow fields this year.

Farmers couldn’t grow paddy since 2012 due to a shortage of water. A forest fire damaged the irrigation canal. The dzongkhag spent about Nu 400,000 to restore the irrigation canal.

Although located in a favourable climatic condition and landscape at 540 metres above sea level, officials said that farmers lost interest in farm activities and were inclined towards off-farm activities. Rilangthang has 23 acres of agricultural land.

However, residents had been growing cereals, vegetables, and winter chillies but on a smaller scale. Villagers said that they had a shortage of farm labour.

As a pilot project, last year, the dzongkhag provided 250kg of IR-28 (rice type) to farmers of Rilangthang, which according to the dzongkhag agriculture officer Dorji Gyeltshen, was a success.

“The dzongkhag provided people with irrigation facilities such as drips, tanks, and pipes and farm machinery for land preparation,” Dorji Gyeltshen said.

He said that such initiatives would contribute towards food self-sufficiency and security among communities. “We hope that people will show continued interest in the future.”

In the future, the dzongkhag plans to provide technical assistance and introduce new farm technologies while employing more youth in agriculture, Dorji Gyeltshen said.

Dhan Maya Gurung who owns five acres of land in Rilangthang said that she was overjoyed to work in the paddy fields again. “Without irrigation water, we did not have many livelihood opportunities.”

She had been growing vegetables on a portion of her land. “I hope to increase my rice production next year.”

Tikaram Gurung said that he won’t have to buy imported rice anymore. “I am happy that I will be able to grow my own rice.”

Edited by Tshering Palden