Fodder Station- An Additional Source of Income for Highland Community

Fodder station at Gyentsa
Fodder station at Gyentsa

As per the annual work plan (2013-14) of the Rangeland Unit, NCAN Bumthang, the first fodder station in high altitude area in Bhutan was established at Gyentsa under Sephu Geog in Wangdue Dzongkhag in June 2014. The fodder station development program was being implemented in close collaboration with the Dzongkhag Livestock sector, Wangdue under Laya –Sephu project through funding support from Bhutan Trust for Environment Conservation (BTFEC). Gyentsa is officially two days walk from Sephu and located at an altitude of 3700 metres above sea level. Seven households who own yak from Longtey village are the main beneficiaries and engaged in developing fodder station with technical support from the NCAN.

The yak herders of Longtey own the tsamdro at Gyentsa and it is the summer grazing area of their yaks. Most importantly it is the transit camp for people of Lunana Geog during summer season and they use this route for transporting goods to their Geog. The snowman trekking route which is the longest trekking route for tourists in the country also passes through Gyentsa before ending at Sephu. Therefore, there is a huge scope for developing fodder station at Gyentsa to create additional income source for the yak herders and at the same time to reduce overgrazing of limited grazing areas which in turn will bring under sustainable tsamdro management practices.

Various activities were included under the fodder station development program. Nine acres of tsamdro at Gyentsa was brought under improved pasture development, oat and fodder beet plantation including fencing work. Temperate species such as grass mixture was used for developing improved pasture. The Urea Molasses and Mineral Block (UMMB) shed was constructed inside the fodder station to promote intake of feed supplement. A wooden canopy was also built inside fodder station to function as a rest place for the tourist and travelers.

The main expected outcome from the developing fodder station at Gyentsa will be the economic and environmental benefits that are going to derive. The seven households from Longtey who are the main beneficiaries will directly earn the cash from either by selling green fodders or allowing controlled grazing on payment basis to those travelers who use horses and yak for transporting via Gyentsa. Prior to starting development of fodder station, tsamdro has been openly used by traveler from Lunana to graze their animal used for transporting via Gyentsa. That trend had let to degrading tsamdro due to overgrazing and accordingly through this program, it is anticipated to prevent further degradation of tsamdro through controlled grazing and sustainable management practice. Apartment from benefiting Gyentsa yak herders group, commuters from Lunana Geog will also benefit from the founding of fodder station as green fodder will be readily available for their horses and yak at reasonable rate.

Soon the group is expected to come up with management plan including internal by-laws for an effective functioning and sustainability of the fodder station in long run. Finally, if it goes well with the first fodder station at Gyentsa, the same will be replicated in other high altitude places based on need basis and interest of the highland community.

Submitted by: Pema Wangda and Wangchuk, NCAN, Bumthang

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