Drying up of irrigation water and poor rainfall affect paddy cultivation in Wangdue

Farmers in Wangduephodrang expect to complete paddy cultivation by end of this month to have optimal yield.

Since irrigation water is not sufficient for paddy cultivation, most farmers depend on the monsoon rainfall. However, the Monthly Climate Summary report for June by Weather and Climate Services Division (WCSD), National Center for Hydrology and Meteorology states the onset of monsoon has been delayed by more than two weeks this year.

The monsoon rainfall usually starts from June 5, said Deputy Executive Engineer, WCSD, Tshencho Dorji,

This year, the monsoon started on June 16 with 90% of stations recording rainfall more than 1.0mm..

Additionally, although the country received rainfall within June, the met stations in Bajo, Paro, Punakha, Mongar, Tangmachu and Bumthang received less rainfall.

The Bajo met station in Wangduephodrang Dzongkhag met stations recorded lesser than 10 days of rain during June with highest rainfall of 12.6mm recorded on June 25. The Dzongkhag also recorded 22 days as hot days (above 30 degree Celsius).

“It’s peak time for paddy plantation but we are waiting for rainfall this month,” said Rubesa Gewog Gup, Karma Wangdi, adding that the cultivation starts from June until July.

Additionally, he said although some households are done with the cultivation, due to lack of rainfall and extreme sunlight, the saplings are dying. “By end of this month, we are hopeful that the plantation would be complete. If the plantation is not carried out on time, the paddy will not ripen properly and the yield will not be good,” said Karma Wangdi.

Two chiwogs namely Bangtoedkha and Zamding in Rubesa Gewog are yet to do plantation. The gewog has about 159 households.

Due to drying of irrigation water source and new sources being far away, paddy plantation has been difficult, said Karma Wangdi.

Agriculture Extension Officer (AEO) of Rubesa Gewog, Choki Nima, said delay in paddy cultivation and inadequate water would result in weak formation of grain.

He added that the gewog faces acute water shortage and farmers were not able to cultivate 50 acres of wetland in 2018.

Gup of Phangyuel Gewog, Ugyen, said two chiwogs of the five in the gewog have not started paddy plantation.

Moreover, he shared the farmers of the three chiwogs done with paddy cultivation are waiting for rainfall as saplings have not been able to grow.

“Last year, we were not able to do paddy plantation in Phangyuel and Genkha Chiwogs due to lack of rainfall,” said Gup Ugyen, “I feel this time also we would not be able to harvest paddy because of delay in rainfall.”

Phangyul Gewog AEO, Dendup Wangchuk, said 60 acres in Phangyuel and eight acres in Genkha were not able to cultivate paddy in 2018.

“There has been little rain and yearly, the scenario is becoming worse,” he said, adding that 60 households have 120 acres for pending plantation.

Nahi Gup Kinley Tenzin said 11 households in Yusawom and eight households in Yusagom have not been able to start the paddy cultivation since the irrigation water source is small and largely depend on the monsoon rainfall.

The Deputy Chief Dzongkhag Agriculture Officer of Wangduephodrang, Dhodo, said there are various irrigation water projects for the Dzongkhag which could resolve the problem within the 12th Five Year Plan.

Two gewogs – Gasetshogom and Gastshowom – faces shortage of water due to diversion of water towards the Basochhu hydro project. Dzongkhag officials are discussing with the project authority to provide additional water, he said.

Wangduephodrang Dzongda Sonam Jamtsho said the Dzongkhag has projects to augment the water source in existing irrigation channel and those that have dried up.

“We will look for additional water source in the eight gewogs under water flagship program in 12th Five Year Plan,” said the Dzongda.

Additionally, he said the dzongkhag irrigation is bad and the situation has exacerbated due to poor rainfall.

The Dzongda also said some areas in a few gewogs in Wangdue could not carry out paddy plantation since the past two years. He expects a funding of US$ 25.3mn from the Green Climate Fund to help resolve the issue.

pic courtesy: Celebrate Bhutan

Thukten Zangpo from Wangdue