Agriculture: With wetlands in Tsangpo chiwog, Thrimshing, remaining fallow for the last few years, the agriculture department is working on reviving paddy cultivation in the two villages of Wungathrema and Pammanmo.

About 10 acres of wetland in Wungathrema and Pammanmo are currently being cleared for paddy cultivation. A kilometer long irrigation canal, jointly funded by the government and the Commercial Agriculture and Resilient Livelihoods Enhancement Programme (CARLEP), is as also under construction.

Agriculture extension supervisor of Thrimshing, Tshering Wangmo said that farmers had left their wetlands fallow primarily because of human-wildlife conflict (HWC) and rural-urban migration.

“While villagers were increasingly facing severe HWC problems, the rural-urban migration resulted in labour shortages,” she said. “After reviving paddy cultivation in the two villages, we would also look into the possibilities of installing electric fencings.”

It was almost five years back when villagers last cultivated their wetlands, Tsangpo tshogpa Pema Dorji said. Besides HWC, he said paddy cultivation in the two villages completely stopped for want of irrigation water.

While the construction of a farm road in 2011 affected the earthen irrigation channels in Wungathrema, it was the inconvenient location of the water source in case of Pammanmo.

“Water became scarce and the cultivation was severely affected. Otherwise, I was able to harvest 350kg of paddy every year from my one-langdo wetland,” he said.

The new irrigation channel would benefit 26 households, which includes seven households of Thrimshing village located close to Wungathrema. Moreover, Pema Dorji said few households of Phegpari chiwog would also benefit from the canal.

“Come April and we are hoping to start planting paddy seedlings. Given that the agriculture department would be providing the seedlings, villagers are now willing to put in extra efforts,” he said. “We also have plans to market 50 percent of our harvests every year.”

However, villagers still have to worry about wild animals destroying significant portion of their harvests.

“With the number of wild boars having increased, it would be very difficult to protect our fields without the installation of electric fencings,” a villager from Pammanmo said.

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang