19 November 2017, Mongar: Human wildlife conflict has been one of the major constraint for farmers in Bhutan and with more than 69% of the population depending on agriculture, livestock and forest resources, it is a matter of a great concern. The loss of crops and animals immensely impact on the people living in rural areas, who often spend sleepless night guarding their crops and animals from wild animal damage.
Gomchu village is one of the far flung villages under Narang geog, with the altitude ranging from 1200 metres above sea level (masl) to 1500 masl. The village has almost 98 acres of dryland and 24 acres of wetland with 24 households and two empty households. In combating human wildlife conflict, farmers used conventional methods of guarding the fields- making scarecrows, fencing the fields, hanging of metal sheets and making sounds adopted by the farmers to ward off the wildlife. However these methods were insignificant. With the damages caused by animals leading to significant reduction of the yields contributes to fallowing of land.
To resolve this, a 3.5 kms electric fencing covering 87 acres for a total of 50 households was introduced as one measure to curb human wildlife conflict in Gomchu in 2015 with fund support from ITPGRFA project coordinated by the National Biodiversity Center and technical support from ARDC-Wengkhar. Since the technology was newly introduced, most farmers were sceptical in using the method with confusion over the risk of electric shocks on humans and livestock. Nevertheless, they were oriented on the technical aspects of the method with detailed explanations and demonstrations through hands on trainings conducted by the extension centre and ARDC Wengkhar.
People are now contended and happy with this method of crop protection by electric fencing. Farmers can now sleep properly and harvest more. It has been more than a year now and there have not been any raids by wild boars and deer, a common thing in the past. Fallow wetlands have now reduced by 50 %. Crop loss to boar, deer and monkeys has been protected and farmers have started to harvest almost 90% of their crops. Land which usually remained fallow throughout the winter season has started to be cropped with winter vegetable and quinoa.
Gomchu farmers find the technology a blessing and it continues to be the best solution for enchaining food security, income generation and peaceful nights for the farmers.
- Submitted by – Pema Lhadon, Agriculture Extension Centre, Narang, Mongar
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