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A dry monsoon

The monsoon is not yet over but there has not been much rain this year.

Farmers in many parts of the country, particularly in the western, eastern, and central regions have suspended agricultural activities. Drying water sources have in many villages made the matter worse. In desperation some are resorting to religious rituals. But the rain won’t come.

This is perhaps the driest and the hottest season we have ever experienced. For our brethren far away from the urban settlements this is not the best of times, certainly not a year of great expectations. For the many who depend on the sale of agriculture produce it means poor income. For others, it is a serious food crisis lying in wait.

Because of dysfunctional irrigation facilities, if we do not lack in terms of numbers, farmers depend primarily on rainwater for major agricultural activities. And when change in climate which is happening in unprecedented rapidity disturbs weather conditions we find ourselves vastly ill prepared to face the challenges.

On the government reports our irrigation channels are impressive both in terms of number and size, which begs the question: Why are our farmers compelled to bring their agricultural activities to a stop while waiting for the rain desperately? Maybe it too is a little like the story of drinking water coverage – there are taps in every household but there is seldom any water running from those taps.

It is not enough that we have irrigation channels; we need water running in them. What is the purpose of many such amenities that we spend millions of ngultrums on year after year otherwise?

Maybe we could do with a lot less of political expediencies and a lot more earnest efforts and meaningful development so that the nation as a whole stands to benefit.

More than 60 percent of Bhutanese depend on agriculture. This means the season’s failure to bring rain will affect the livelihoods of more than half the country’s population. A frightening thought.

All that can be done yet, however, is wait. We might have rain in the coming days. Monsoon is very much here.

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