Water scarcity challenges paddy production in lower Radhi – Trashigang

Farmers in lower Radhi of Trashigang have to continuously worry about their paddy cultivation getting delayed due to lack of enough irrigation water. Less rainfall this year has further aggravated their situation. Radhi is known as the Rice Bowl of the East as it is one of the highest rice producing communities in the eastern region.

Farmers in upper Radhi have already started paddy cultivation.

However, due to lack of sufficient water, most farmers in lower parts of the gewog are just preparing their fields.

While some farmers have used small spring water and stagnant rainwater for transplantation, paddy saplings are wilting due to unusual heat and dry spells

There is an irrigation water facility in the gewog but the farmers in lower parts get their turn only after the completion of paddy cultivation in the upper areas.

Omtong, a resident of Jonla village said, “I am using a small spring water and stagnant rainwater for cultivation. We have yet to get our share of irrigation water. We may get it around July. And we have to divide it among 4 to 5 of us. After July, paddy cultivation season almost gets over, so the production will be poor. Some people have left their land uncultivated.”

Similarly, Tshering Tashi, a resident of Radhi Gewog said, “We have to always worry without proper and adequate irrigation water supply. The production would be good if we have continuous and enough water supply. Without enough water, our paddy plants wilt, leading to low production.

 Radhi Gup Younten Phuntsho said all paddy growers in the gewog try to finish paddy cultivation within one to two months, which leads to water shortage although water is drawn from around six small streams. He added that the gewog administration invests around Nu 1 M to Nu 2 M in maintenance work annually.

“Last year, we have spent around one million ngultrum for the maintenance of irrigation infrastructure and that has helped the upper part of village in getting water supply. I have again allocated around Nu 5 M to Nu 6 M in the 13th Five Year Plan as a priority work,” said the gup.

 He added that the gewog office’s budget is limited and that it will not be able to solve the issue. He said a separate project is required to address the issues altogether.

Radhi farmers grow eight different varieties of rice in more than 870 acres of wetland. Around 380 acres of land remain uncultivated because of water shortage, unavailability of labour and wild animal menace.

Last year, more than 560 households in the gewog produced around 1900 metric tonnes of rice.

Sonam Darjay, Trashigang

Edited by Kipchu

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