Unlike the previous years, farmers in Kilkhorthang gewog in Tsirang are already preparing their fields for paddy transplantation this year.

Farmers say they will transplant early this year to resolve the water shortage issue in the locality.

In Kilkhorthang, paddy transplantation is done in a way to avoid disputes among villagers for irrigation water.

Lachi Maya, 68, has hired two labourers to plough the fields.

The field, located right next to the water source, has to do the transplantation first. After all her terraces are filled, the water will be channelled to the next field.

A source of irrigation water is the Damphu Khola, which will reach at least 10 farmer’s field. “We do it turn wise for the convenience of all,” Lachi Maya said.

Just below her field, Tek Bahadur Pulami and his eldest son tirelessly scrap away grass from the terraces. The family does not own wetland but they sharecrop.

This year they will cultivate on about 1.5-acres of field.

Tek Bahadur said that the irrigation water woe is an issue that never gets resolved. “If we transplant early, we get adequate water.”

He said that in another week or two, his field would be ready for transplantation. It takes five pairs of bull, 35 female paddy planters and five male helpers to complete planting paddy in a day on the 1.5-acre area.

The farmers also face labour shortage, which force many people to leave the fields fallow.

Tek Bahadur said he cultivates enough to feed his family of seven.

He said he has to speed up work because according to the Nepali Calendar (patro) heavy rainfall is predicted sometime next week. “Water volume will increase and planting paddy will be easy. I can’t afford to miss the rainfall.”

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang