Tshering Namgyal | Mongar
From not needing to carry their farm produces on their backs and loading mules and horses to saving travel time, farmers in Mongar say farm roads have benefited them.
Today most farmers take their products and travel in Maruti vans and boleros.
The infrastructure has also encouraged people to go for large-scale farming, as it has enabled marketing.
A farmer from Chali, Sangay Dorji, who does large-scale farming including the early chilli cultivation said the farm road has changed his life.
The 42-year-old cultivates vegetables on rotation basis round the year.
He said he used to transported vegetables and fruits on horses and carried on his back to sell at Mongar town, which took him three to four hours.
Later, he used a power tiller to ferry the products. But he and the horses had to reach the products till the Mongar-Lhuentse highway, which is about three kilometres away from his house and where he parks his power tiller.
He said the task was not easy.
“It would require one whole day to shift the produce to the highway and load on the tractor to sell at Mongar next day,” he said.
However, after the farm road came up, he said he could directly load them in the bolero pick up from his doorstep and ferry it to Mongar in an hour. “It saves time and energy,” he said.
Sangay Dorji earns an income of Nu 100,000 to 200,000 a year from selling vegetables grounded maize and fruits. Other time, he drives a taxi.
Similarly, Sangay Zangmo, 32, from Konbar village said she did not have to walk for two hours carrying vegetables on her back and horse to sell it at Mongar in the morning and return home in the evening like before after the Mongar-Autsho bypass road that passes from below her village was constructed in 2009.
“Now, we can easily hire a local bolero pickup paying around 800 to 1000 in group early morning and book a taxi in the evening,” she said.
She added that with the farm road connectivity, even carrying firewood and attending meetings at the gewog became easier.
Villagers from Themnangbi, Takchhu, Yakpogang, Ridaza, Chali and Pekchurang do mass agriculture and dairy farming and sell their produces in Mongar town.
With the road connectivity, many farmers have also bought bolero and Maruti van and there is no transportation issue to market their produces like before.
However, taxi drivers in Mongar claim that they have not benefitted much with the villagers buying private vehicles.
The chairman of Mongar taxi association, Jangchub, said the farm road has affected the taxi business.
“There are boleros and other vehicles everywhere in the village. The blacktopped roads have buses in place and not many show interest for taxis,” he said.
He added that some even carry additional passenger and when reported to the concerned authorities, they wanted proof with photos or videos, which was not possible and risky.
However, there are also challenges.
Sangay Dorji said monsoon damages the roads, making it difficult to ply in summer.
Mongar regional Road Safety and Transport Authority office has recorded 2,025 vehicles in the region.
Mongar dzongkhag has 184 farm roads with a total length of about 555kms in its 17 gewogs.