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Road and electric fencing needed to revive cultivation

Agriculture: It was not long ago when farmers from Chendibji, Nyala, Drangla and Tangsibji in Trongsa had bumper paddy harvest from Dhimba village. It served as wetlands for people living in higher altitudes where paddy doesn’t grow.

The village, however, is abandoned today because of difficulty in accessibility. The few houses remaining in the village are in ruins.

The vast paddy fields are filled with bushes and mandarin trees are unattended. There are also healthy brown pepper trees and tree tomatoes still with fruits. A stream flows through the middle of the fields.

Save for some cow herders from Kela, not many people visit the village today, although it is just two hours walk from the nearest road head in Tangsibji. Cattle from Chendibji and Tangsibji come down to graze in winter.

Dhimba village could be seen from Yuesa village along Trongsa-Zhemgang highway. There are stories among people that the village was abandoned, as pythons invaded their house, which land- owners claimed was untrue. They however admitted of an incident where a python was found in one of the houses.

People abandoned the village from an endless need to construct wooden bridges over Nikachu, which was washed away with swollen river every time there was a rainfall. The villagers had to cross Nikachu to reach their village, Dhimba. Namgay, 61, from Chendebji said it was difficult for villagers to travel to Dhimba with cattle. “There are two other streams that posed danger in summer,” he said. “It was risky walking with loads, as the trail was marshy, infested with leeches and bugs.”

He said people in Chendibji do not own paddy fields in the village since it is cold area. “Dhimba was fertile and it helped us to self-sufficient, as we grow other high altitude cereals here in the locality and brought rice from there.”

Namgay said people in Chendibji depend on imported rice today. “They earn cash income by selling potatoes and buy rice.”

People also claim that the other factor that forced them to abandon the village was shortage of manpower and human-wildlife conflict. They also said it was difficult when people at Dhimba fell ill then. “We sometimes had to detour to go to our village via Kela, Samcholing and Trongsa, as swollen rivers blocked the path,” a villager said.

Tandin Sithub, 61, left his one acre of wetland and  half an acre of dry land in Dhimba, as other neighbors were abandoning the place. “I constructed a house there and had to be left for ruin,” he said.

Tandin Sithub said he harvested about 2,500 drey (traditional measuring instrument that weighs little more than a kg) of paddy when yield was good. “We carried it home on horses,” he said.

Kunzang Choden, 54, from Nyala had to abandon her two-acres wetland and a two-storey house. “We carried CGI sheets from Tangsibji to roof the house there and later had to leave it behind as neighbors were leaving the village,” she said.

Farmers in the locality, are, hoping for the government to come to their rescue by constructing a farm road and providing electric fencing.

Phub Sangay, 64, from Chendebji, said the initiative would not only help farmers but fulfil government’s vision of subsistence farming.

Walking around the area, he said it has only been about 13 years since people abandoned it. “Recultivating should not be difficult.”

He said the land is so fertile that they could grow chilies from the water thrown after rinsing chili while cooking.

People also said it is the right time for the government to intervene. “We will soon grow old and won’t be able to work,” a villager said. “If not now, the land could permanently remain fallow, as it could be difficult for their children to recultivate it.”

Tangsibji gup, Gembo Dorji, said he is planning to propose farm road to Dhimba in the 12th Plan. “But I need to first discuss with the people and get assurance that they are going to recultivate their lands.”

Records with the gewog, show that there are 29.46 acres of wetland and 6.33 acres of dry land in Dhimba.

Though one of the former Tangsibji gups proposed for a road in the previous plan, it could not be realised.

However, a dzongkhag official feared that the roads and other facilities could be under- utilized even if provided.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa

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