Lack of farm road- a major barrier in Sombay

Dorji Wangchuck getting his horses ready for a journey from Mochu to Rangtse   Picture by Minjur Dorji
Dorji Wangchuck getting his horses ready for a journey from Mochu to Rangtse Picture by Minjur Dorji

In the absence of a farm road and electricity, Mochu village in Haa is unable to pursue any farming for commercial purposes

As is the case in many parts of Haa, farmers in the remote Mochu village under Sombay gewog are unable to cultivate any cash crops due to the lack of a farm road despite the high level of soil fertility.

Inspite of the government’s promises to enhance agricultural activities, especially in the face of the Indian Rupee crisis, villagers of Mochu told The Bhutanese that there hasn’t been any kind of assistance from the government to enhance farming development in their villages.

Unlike in the other western dzongkhags, farmers said there hasn’t been any help rendered to them in the last five years. “We hear about green houses, free seeds and fertilizers provided by the government in other places while we have never been included,” Phuntsho of Sombay gewog said.

A farmer, Sangay Dorji said, “Anything that we sow here will grow because the soil is fertile, but there is no point in doing so when there is no road or proper transportation facilities for our farm produce.”

The nearest farm road is an official five-day walk away from Mochu, while it takes about eight hours to reach the basic health unit (BHU).

Villagers said health workers at the BHU are not very competent and patients are eventually referred to bigger health facilities in other dzongkhags. “By then, the doctors usually say we are too late and the patients suffer,” village Mang-Ap Samdrup said.

In the meantime, a few farmers have taken to cardamom business that fetches them about Nu 0.3mn when the yield and market is good. “We can at least bring some basic goods from Samtse with money, and also pay transportation charges from the income,” Samdrup said.

However, the market price fluctuation has had a negative impact on the cardamom business. “Prices of cardamom have dropped in the last three years and it’s a huge discouragement. I have let my cardamom fields turn into forest,” one of the farmers said.

Another barrier is the cost of transportation. Porter-pony charges go through the roof during peak seasons. “Horse owners charge almost Nu 900 a day during summer months,” a Chiwog Tshogpa said.

Villagers also said one of the biggest setbacks is the lack of electricity connection and access to information and media.

The People’s Democratic Party’s (PDP) president Tshering Tobgay who was on his campaign trail visited the village last week. While reiterating on the earlier pledges, the president vowed to increase agricultural income and activities in the gewogs by threefold.

With four chiwogs, Sombay has remained one of the most remote gewogs in the country.

Minjur Dorji /  Haa


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