Resource: Acute shortage of irrigation and drinking water has forced people to leave their lands fallow in Dagana, claim locals.

These two problems were the main issues raised in all gewogs of the dzongkhasg during the agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji’s recent visit.

Nimchu, 58, who resettled in Gesarling, said it is difficult for his family to make a living from farm works, since there is an acute shortage of irrigation water in the locality.

He said people could not even convert the wetlands into dry land without irrigation canals, since the law prohibits it. “Many, therefore, leave the land fallow.”

Nimchu said that his two and half acres of wetland produced more than 500kgs of rice when there was enough irrigation water. “But my family harvested only 150kgs of rice last season, as there was no water during the plantation season.”

Villagers in Dagana said they have been raising the issue of drinking and irrigation water shortage to all officials and ministers visiting their gewogs.

Farmers also said that they have appealed to the dzongkhag land record office on the possibility of changing their land from wet to dry considering the shortage of irrigation water.

A farmer from Tashiding, Sangay, said many farmers resort to buying imported rice from the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) or from the farm shops.

“We cannot grow enough rice from our fields and we land up buying imported rice,” he said.

He said farmers are buying rice when they are supposed to be producing rice. “If there is enough irrigation water, people in Dagana will not have to buy from shops,” Sangay said. “The soil here is rich.”

Agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji said that taking the water shortage problems people face into consideration, the government has come up with an irrigation water project.

“We know the importance of water in farmers’ lives and we are equally concerned,” Lyonpo Yeshey Dorji said.

Dzongkhag agriculture officer, Passang, said that there are about 30 irrigation schemes for maintenance in the financial year 2016-2017 in the dzongkhag.

The budget for the irrigation project is Nu 33 million.

The agriculture officer said six irrigation schemes in Dorona, Larja and Drujeygang gewog were completed and construction of eight new irrigation schemes are underway.

“After the completion of the irrigation channel, we are expecting about 60 percent of the irrigation water problem in the dzongkhag to be solved,” Passang said.

Officials cited drying water source as one of the problems for irrigation water shortage.

Yeshey Dema | Dagana