Jumla farmers worry as damaged canals remain unrepaired

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By Netra Shahi,Jumla, Apr. 3: The month of April marks the period for preparing fields to grow paddy seedlings in Jumla. 

Currently, it is the time to grow seedlings of popular Marsi paddy in the district. While most farmers in the district sowed their seeds on April 2, Rughubina Shahi, a farmer from Ward No. 1 in Hima Rural Municipality of Jumla, expressed his inability to sow seeds in his paddy field as the canal to his farm was washed away by a flood last year. 

“There is a lack of irrigation facilities, embankments have fallen, and there is no canal and no water to grow the paddy seedlings,” Shahi said. 

The flood that occurred for a week from October 2, 2022, to October 12, 2022, inundated the fields of Madapolla, Kuchekuna, and Pagarpali in Ward No. 1 of the rural municipality.

In the Jyulo area, a significant percentage of fields have been submerged under floodwaters. 

However, currently, fewer fields are being prepared for rice cultivation. 

Farmers have been greatly worried about not being able to plant paddy this year too which may lead to food scarcity in the coming year. 

Locals said that although there are water supply office and an agricultural development office in the district, the province government and the federal government have not paid attention to repairing the damaged canals.

According to Bir Bahadur Shahi, a farmer of the rural municipality, he was unable to grow the paddy seedlings this year as well because of the closure of Kuche Kuna-Kulonai-Pagarpali canal. 

The 2022 flood swept away numerous paddy fields belonging to dozens of farmers in the rural municipality.

Ward Chairman Ratan Bahadur Shahi said that given the relentless flooding of agricultural land, there was an urgent need to build a strong and extensive embankment and repair the bridge. 

His efforts to initiate a process to rebuild the washed-away agricultural land and canals through various agencies went in vain as the authorities paid little attention to rebuilding the damaged canal, the Ward Chairman said.

The budget allocated to the rural municipality and its wards is insufficient to address the needs of the affected area. 

Last year, a request was forwarded via the Department of Water and Irrigation for the reconstruction of the damaged farms and villages in Karnali province. 

However, there are complaints that the request was not given priority.

Despite the Karnali government's policy of prioritising production and agriculture, there is no record of arable land destroyed in Jumla during the 2022 disaster.

Balakram Devkota, Chief of the Agricultural Development Office, Jumla, said that there was a lack of information regarding the condition of arable land and the villages that were destroyed. 

He emphasised the necessity of accessing the data from the office to understand the extent of the damage and the progress made in reconstruction efforts. 

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