For decades, farmers of Gesarling chiwog of Gesarling Gewog in Dagana couldn’t cultivate paddy. They had to do away with paddy cultivation after the water source which is used for both irrigation and consumption started drying up.
The fields are overgrown in bushes which otherwise could have been filled with lush green paddy saplings had there been enough water for irrigation. 35 households of the upper Gesarling chiwog left 28 acres of wetland fallow due to acute shortage of irrigation water in the community.
The farmers said they even resorted to rainwater to cultivate paddy. But that didn’t help much.
Lekzom, Gesarling chiwog’s Tshogpa said relying on rainwater delays paddy cultivation. “When the paddy cultivation gets delayed, the yield can’t meet even the cost of production.”
“The paddy production is better only if we could start paddy cultivation works within the fourth month of the Bhutanese lunar calendar. If not most paddy plants cannot bear grain,” said Nimchu, a farmer from Gesarling chiwog.
Gesarling Gup Pema Wangmo Tamang said the gewog and the dzongkhag administration couldn’t help solve the water shortage as there is not a single reliable source in the community. “We even tried to solve the shortage through the Water Flagship Project last year but farmers couldn’t locate a water source.”
For now, as the possibility of getting irrigation water seems uncertain, some famers are looking forward to convert their wetlands into dry land. Or otherwise, they said, providing them with water pump facility will also address the shortage to some extent.
“For now, we would be grateful if relevant authorities could look for possibility of converting wetlands to dry land. If we leave the land as wetlands, our children cannot inherit it. Moreover, we cannot construct houses on wetland. If we are allowed to construct houses, we can rent out to teachers and gewog staff,” said Rinchen Layda, a resident of Gesarling chiwog.
“We have a stream locally known as Emri Khola, which is located at the bottom of our chiwog. That stream, never dries up. Not even during the dry season. We would be grateful if government could provide us water pump to irrigate our paddy fields,” said Tashi Chezom, a farmer from Gesarling chiwog.
Gesarling Gup Pema Wangmo Tamang said after consulting the dzongkhag administration the gewog submitted a list of wetland Thram holders to the dzongkhag’s National Council Member, the Dzongda and the National Assembly’s Member of Parliament from Lhamoi Dzingkha-Tashiding constituency. “They are aware of the problem but we had submitted the copy so they can consult with relevant authorities to look into the possibility of converting wetlands to dry lands.”
Until the water shortage is addressed, the farmers there will not be able to harness the power of what their wetlands have to offer; bountiful rice harvest.
Pema Tshewang, Dagana
Edited by Phub Gyem