Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Farmers in Padtsaling and Semjong gewogs in Tsirang are reaping the benefits of two water projects that completed months ago.

In the past, farmers grappled with both drinking and irrigation water shortages.

With adequate water now, residents have started venturing into commercial farming.

Dechen Peldon, 50, from Daraygang chiwog is one of the beneficiaries of the country’s first and largest integrated water supply pilot project in Semjong.

She said that in the past, they did not even have water for drinking. “Now, with an automated system, about 70 households in the chiwog receive irrigation water from 3pm to 9pm every day.”

The gewog agriculture extension officer monitors and activate the eight distribution lines connected to a huge storage tank.

Farmers were also provided with equipment for drip and sprinkler irrigation systems for efficient usage of water.

“The conditions have improved a lot,” Dechen Peldon said.

She owns a cardamon orchard.

Another villager, Bal Bahadur Tamang, is a progressive commercial farmer in the gewog.

The 41-year-old started fishery, piggery, and poultry farms in recent months.

Along with his wife, he runs the farm and grows vegetables on more than four acres of land.

“Unlike in the past, we didn’t face any problems. With sufficient water for drinking and irrigation, we could increase our production,” he said, adding that he would be able to expand his farm in the future.

He sells his produce to Damphu town, Punakha, and Wangdue.

A mother of two, Man Maya Monger, said she used to share a private water source with her neighbour in the past. “The source was drying up and we didn’t have a safe and continuous flow of water. But now, we can focus on rearing livestock too.”

She said that during heavy monsoon, when the pipelines were washed away, they had to go without water for days. “I feel the quality of life has also improved. We started cultivating high-end fruits like avocado.”

Built at the cost of Nu 28.24 million by the De-Suung National Service Water Project, the project is expected to help irrigate 200 acres of agricultural land in the chiwog.

The project was completed last November.

Similarly, 46 households in Patshaling-Maed and Tsakaling in Patshaling gewog are excited for the winter vegetable production in the next five months.

Currently, the farmers are yet to harvest their maize yield.

A farmer in Tsakaling, Chimi Dema, said that after the project was completed in April this year, they received consistent water supply.

After the old water supply became completely dysfunctional in 2013, residents had been getting their drinking water from a stream. Some bought water pipes at their own expense to have clean and safe drinking water.

“I think this winter is going to be different as more people start producing winter vegetables on a commercial scale. I am hopeful,” Chimi Dema.

The water project initially expected to cost over Nu 5 M but was completed at Nu 2.8 M.

Conflict with elephants, however, has disrupted the pipelines. Villagers go in groups to maintain the water supply.