Farmers in Thasang, Mustang benefit from irrigation projectThe construction of an irrigation canal at Jhomo Phant in Tukuche has made it possible for people to return to their villages and start farming.
Saroj Tulachan, a resident of Ward No. 1 in Thasang Rural Municipality, worked in Japan for 15 years before returning to Nepal seven years ago.
“There was not much I could do in the village so I had to leave the country for employment. I worked really hard in Japan and saved some money before coming back. I opened a hotel in Kathmandu with the money I had saved but my heart was not in it,” Tulachan told the Post.
For Tulachan, his chance to return to his native village in Thasang Ward No. 1 came with an irrigation project. It meant he could go back to his village and work in his fields. “I have started cultivating my farmland which had lain barren for so many years,” he said.
The construction of an irrigation canal at Jhomo Phant in Tukuche, where Thasang Ward No 1. lies, has made it possible for many like Tulachan to return to their villages and start farming. Bishnu Sharma, the chairman of Jhomo Tukuche Irrigation Consumers Committee, says Jhomo has a favourable climate to cultivate apples and many villagers are now engaged in apple farming.
“I have built an apple orchard as a pilot project and cultivated barley and uwa, among other crops, in my field” said Tulachan. “Within a year, four more villagers returned to the village and started agriculture projects.”
The irrigation project, which started in the last fiscal year at the initiation of the Gandaki Provincial government, is in its final stage. The project is underway at a total cost of Rs23 million.
Under the project, a 1,500metre-long canal will supply water to a pond from Thapa Khola.
Earlier, a rough canal was used for the same purpose and farmers had to wait a month to irrigate their farmlands due to loss of water to leakages.
“Farmers can now irrigate their fields every week,” said Sharma. “Better irrigation facilities will lead to greater production of various agricultural products.”
Jhalak Mohan Ojha, chief at the Drinking Water, Water Resource and Irrigation Development Sub-Division Office in Mustang, said 75 hectares of land can be fully irrigated after the completion of the irrigation project.
Access to proper irrigation facilities has attracted the local residents towards agriculture, says Ratna Prasad Jwarchan, chairman of Thasang Ward No. 1.
“Farmers are now planting cash crops besides apples. Jhoma area produces apples worth Rs 40 to 50 million a year,” Jwarchan said.
The provincial government has also helped farmers grow crops in the rural municipality.
“Apple farming in the Kowang area began after the construction of an embankment along the Kaligandaki river. The river had eroded its bank areas in recent monsoons,” said Nara Prasad Hirachan, chairman of Thasang Ward No. 2.
At present, only 2,800 of the total 377,300 hectares of land can be irrigated in Mustang.
“Though there are irrigation facilities in 4,030 hectares of land, these fields cannot be irrigated regularly,” Hirachan said. According to the Drinking Water, Water Resource and Irrigation Development Sub-Division Office in Mustang, only 5,466 hectares of land is suitable for irrigation and 6,446 hectares suitable for cultivation in Mustang.