Lack of irrigation water hurts farmers in Paro

The farmers in Tsento-Shari village under Tsento gewog in Paro have been waiting for irrigation water for paddy cultivation. The long wait is discouraging the farmers from working on the land. They are now thinking to leaving their farmland fallow rather than to toil day and night, and have nothing to reap in return.

The agriculture officials have visited and promised the farmers to build a water channel about a year ago, but still there is no irrigation water.

Tashi Gyeltshen, 66, a farmer, from the village said that it has been more than a decade that the owners of the 40 acre paddy fields in the Tsento-Shari village were without enough water. Hence, he said that the productivity is declining each year.

According to Aum Damchu Dem, 65, the paddy cultivation in her village would probably come to an end if the concerned authorities do not intervene to solve the water issue.

She said the irrigation water channel would immensely increase the paddy productivity. “As of now most of farmers cultivate paddy for fodder,” Aum Damchu Dem said.

She further said that even if there is an acute shortage of irrigation water, many farmers continue in growing paddy instead of leaving their land fallow. The Land Act, however, does not allow cultivation of any other crop, other than paddy in the paddy fields.

Tashi Gyeltshen said numerous complaints have been put up to the Dzongkhag Yargey Tshogchung(DYT) and nothing concrete has been said on the matter by the officials.

He said the construction of a new irrigation channel was discussed and surveyed. He said agriculture officials had visited the village and promised of the irrigation channel.  “Nothing has been done as of now,” he said.

Tashi Gyeltshen said that 27 household share water for irrigation from two small streams flowing near their paddy field. He added that stream water is insufficient for 40 acres of paddy field.

The farmers say they are ready to carry out paddy cultivation if they are provided with a proper supply of irrigation water.

For now, the farmers in the village are optimistic and hopeful that the village will get the irrigation channel so that they start with commercial farming.

Once the farmers receive the irrigation assistance, they are expected to harvest about 4.8 MT of paddy. The rice program will be topped up with another component designed for winter vegetable program after paddy, for both home consumption and sales. This would provide opportunities for contributing towards food sufficiency, nutritional improvement and income generation of the farmers.

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