Water solution

In “Weather dependent” I’d celebrated the snowfall, without which our farmers wouldn’t be able to plant potatoes. But I’d also agonized that too much snow could be bad for potato cultivation.

These mixed emotions prompted one Anonymous to comment: “You complain when there is no snow and complain again when there is snow. Nothing new – that is the way Bhutanese are and you are a true champion.”


And I’ll keep complaining: it snowed here, but I learnt that other parts of Bhutan, Gakiling and Sombaykha gewogs for example, got hardly any precipitation. There I saw many farmers look helplessly on as the harsh sun scorched their maize and buckwheat saplings even as they barely sprouted. These farmers already fear their worst harvest in many years. This is bad news for, even at the best of times, their farming is barely subsistence.

What can we do? This is what Aum Zekom advises: “See a rough stretch of wilderness just above the farmer in the middle of this photograph? In Sri Lanka, where rain-water harvesting has been practiced for centuries, one finds a small earthen pond in such a position. Apart from using the pond for irrigation when monsoon rain is late, the pond’s seepage into the ground water system below moistens the soil, helps break down organic matters, prevents loss of top soil, etc., and raises land productivity significantly.” (see “More potatoes”)

Sound simple? It is! See what’s being done in Sri Lanka (I recommend downloading the full report). And in Tanzania.

Let’s not condemn our farmers to the vagaries of nature. We are blessed with a bountiful monsoon – let’s make better use of it.

Pictured is our team walking through a parched field in Gakiling.


Facebook Comments:


  1. Thank you, OL, for taking my little comment seriously…
    Hey, where’s everyone?

    Do we care more about medical students’ stipend than our farmers’ troubles?

    Farming is the riskiest venture there is.
    My cheese-making business pales in comparison.

    Sure, I face loads of risks in my business too.
    But, I have tools to manage them all.

    Farmers borrow, invest all they’ve got, and even risk their livelihood to bet on nature’s caprice.
    I wish I had a tenth of their courage and determination to succeed.

    We are what we eat.
    Without farmers, we won’t be here.

    Comment? Anyone?

  2. on the same subject I recommend reading a book compiled by Indian Centre for Science and Technology (CSE) called Dying Wisdom. It is a record of the different water harvesting technniques used by the various traditional communities which were kinda being lost by the introduction of ‘development technology’ i.e. pumps and that type of thing.
    Even though Bhutan’s farmers have only really used the irrigation channel system – the book records the alternatives used in wester, eastern and trans himalyan regiosn of india as well as the hill areas.

    It’s available on the web if you have a credit card..

    Just a reminder also – Sunday 22 March is World Water Day – do you know if any events are planned?

    on different note – 21 March is Day Against Racial Discrimination – can OL confirm if govt is progressing on citizenship issue? can you update us la?

  3. The book recommended by Anonymous is worth reading, every single page of it.

    The exact reference is: Anil Agawal & Sunita Narain (eds.) "Dying Wisdom, Fall and Potential of India's Traditional Water Harvesting Systems", State of India's Environment (Vol. 4), New Delhi: Centre for Science and Environment (1997).

    A liter of drinking water is more expensive than petro nowadays in most countries around the world. Some scientists even warn possibilities of nations going to war over water rights.

    Lest not forget, over 90% of our body is water…

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