Choki Wangmo | Tsirang

Tsirangtoe has 11 aspiring local government (LG) candidates. Each candidate has pretty much the same promise to deliver: enough water for irrigation.

But the voters were visibly apathetic. They have been promised enough water for irrigation so often, it’s hard for them to believe in it now.

Ganesh Rai from Soentabsa voted for every candidate who promised enough water for irrigation. His seven-acre plot of land has lain fallow for more than a decade.

About 200 households in the chiwog get drinking water for only three hours.

Water ponds, the major source of water for most people in the chiwog, have started drying up. Some blame it on development projects like the construction of roads.

A woman said that candidates make the same promise, then forget once they are elected to the office.

With favourable climatic conditions and about 7,000 acres of wetland and 14,000 acres of dry land, Tsirang is considered the country’s organic capital. But with rapid drying up of water sources, people are increasingly abandoning their fields.

On November 30, 11 aspiring candidates in Doonglagang gewog sought voters’ views to enhance agricultural production.

A mangmi candidate from Kherithang chiwog, Om Prakash Pradhan, believes that the gewog should focus on cash crops. But cardamom production is no longer lucrative. “People can venture into large-scale fruit farming.”

Former Doonglagang mangmi, Damber Bdr, pledged to focus on the development of fallow land, organic certification of crops and vegetables for better prices, and development of greenhouses for better farm production.

Dal Man Pradhan from Doonglagang said that the LG candidates were making promises in vain. “We need a proper farm road connecting chiwogs, adequate drinking water, and support in dairy production.”

In Gosarling gewog, candidates also pledged an adequate water supply.

A gup candidate from Barshong, Santa Lal Powdel, said that if he was elected, he would give increased importance to agriculture and livestock production, and improvement of the gewog centre road and farm roads in the chiwogs.

Some of the top pledges made by candidates in Pemashong in Mendrelgang are agriculture, sufficient drinking water, roads, and irrigation facilities.

“As farmers, water is indispensable to us,” said an aspiring gup candidate Yeshi.

A mangmi candidate from the gewog wants to focus on climate change adaptation and mitigation measures, particularly in the agriculture sector, and sustainable land management methods.

Sonam Choden, 64, from Pemashong chiwog, said that most of the pledges made by the aspiring candidates were issues close to their hearts. “We need support with exporting cash crops.”

Ginger is the primary cash crop in the gewog.

When asked how they would go about addressing water shortage challenges in Tsirangtoe, a gup candidate, Agay Dorji, said water management and distribution are a major issues in the gewog.

Some are pinning their hopes on a water flagship programme.