STAFF REPORTER | Thimphu
The construction of Omshari Landmark Irrigation Project in Pemathang Gewog, Samdrup Jongkhar was launched on 11 November, 2022 coinciding with the Birth Anniversary of Fourth Druk Gyalpo.
The project marks a significant milestone for the irrigation sector in Bhutan. At an estimated project cost of Nu. 130.00 million, the landmark project is expected to complete in 7 months.
In pursuit of realizing His Majesty the King’s vision for quality water infrastructures, the Ministry of Agriculture & Forests in partnership with the De-suung Office and local governments will execute the project.
The project will be undertaken by De-suups who will be deployed through the Desuung National Service Program. At its peak the project is expected to engage 120 De-suups.
Pemathang Gewog is widely known for its Khamtey rice – a variety that is much sought after by many Bhutanese and is a primary source of cash income for many local farmers.
However, the yield and production of Khamtey is currently constrained by irrigation water shortage during its critical growth stages from September end till October. The existing water source – Warong-re is not able to meet both the agriculture and drinking water demands.
Upon completion of the project a vast expanse of Chuzhing (wetland) measuring over 1000 acres will receive increased irrigation water supply and is expected to boost rice and winter vegetable productions.
Besides, it will also provide supplementary water supply for Doma/betel-nut (arecanut) cultivation and livestock farming. Water tapped from the new source – Raoshing-re – will also reduce the demand on the existing one and will serve as a source of clean drinking water for several villages. A total of 384 households will be benefited by the project.
The Agriculture Engineering Division (AED) under Department of Agriculture, conducted the feasibility studies and designed the new irrigation facilities.
The AED will oversee the implementation of the project, which will feature climate resilient irrigation infrastructure with proper intake structures; 7 km of 450 mm diameter HDPE main pipeline; 7km of HDPE pipe distribution system, 8 km of concrete distribution canals and 3 drinking water reservoir tanks.
Once complete the project will be one of the largest irrigation systems in the country implemented through the Desuung National Service Program.
Besides meeting the people’s immediate need for irrigation water, the project will also provide an important platform for a large cohort of young Desuung volunteers to acquire vocational skills on irrigation construction as well as gain an appreciation of the needs of our rural people and their culture.