Residents hope Kholongchu project would give them market access

The farmers in Trashiyangtse are optimistic that job opportunities and a market place for agricultural products will be created as and when construction works begin on the 600 MW Kholongchu Hyrdro Electric Project.

The project is expected to start from the 2020 onwards with some final negotiations coming to a close.

Currently, the farmers in the dzongkhag are discouraged from growing crops on a commercial scale, as it is difficult to sell their vegetables and dairy products.

Jamkhar Gup in Trashiyangtse, Karma Tshewang, said it will be challenging for the farmers to grow the vegetables and other farm produce that is in demand once the project starts.

It is important to create awareness on how to grow the vegetables that will be in demand, said Jamkhar gup.

It is expected that the start of the Kholongchu project will benefit all the farmers and people of Trashiyangtse. The youth also hope to find employment opportunities, giving the people who left their village a chance to return back home.

Wongmanam Tshogpa, Pema, said apart from cereal crops and vegetable cultivation, they also grow the famous Urka chilies. But there is a notable decline in the yield of chilies as most of the seedlings die out. The Tshogpa said such a decline could be the result of climate change.

Although Trashiyangtse has the potential to produce large quantities of agricultural products for business purpose, however, many farmers only cultivate for domestic consumption because of the less number of buyers, said the Tshogpa.

Many farmers want to sell vegetables and other cereal products but there is hardly any profit in doing so as only a few people own vehicles, and the rest of the farmers have to hire Bolero to go to the market place, which is expensive.

Some farmers in Jangphurtse have to store their cereal crops in their homes due to transportation problem as there are no roads or a nearby market place to sell. They say tons of stored rice gets damaged in the process.

Another reason for the low agricultural production is due to the human-wildlife conflict. The farmers in some of the chiwogs have even abandoned farm work due to such difficulties, and some are leaving their villages for better work opportunities in the urban towns.

Most farmers say there are more wild animals than people left in the villages. No matter how hard they work or even with the electric fences charged, the final crop yield is lost to the wildlife.

A farmer from Rabtey village, Chesung Lhamo, said people from her village have stopped doing agricultural work now. But with the start of Kholongchu, the people might want to grow some vegetables and work on crop production. Similarly, Kardi, 63, a farmer from Gangkhar chiwog said he hopes to grab the opportunity to sell his agricultural products when the market opens up.

“I hope the project starts soon. It has been many years now,” said Kardi.

Meanwhile, the gups and tshogpas in Tashiyangtse are creating awareness on agricultural work so the farmers can produce the in demand farm produce.

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