Reviving yak farming in Tang

Yaks from four Dzongkhags at Phokpai
Yaks from four Dzongkhags at Phokpai

Bumthang: Yak rearing had been seen as one of the important activity of Narut community in Tang geog for sustaining livelihood in the past. However, with an initiation of agriculture development activities including livestock breed improvement program to increase production, yak rearing culture among the herders in Tang was totally diminished.There was a gradual shift from yak rearing to dairy farming with improved breed as it provides more advantages in terms of earning income and management aspects.

To revive the age old tradition, the National Center for Animal Nutrition (NCAN), Bumthang initiated the re-establishment of yak rearing culture in Tang with an active involvement of Narut community. This program is being implemented under the project title ‘Securing Rangeland Soil Carbon through Community Yak Herding within Thrumshingla National Park’ with fund support from the Bhutan Trust for Environment Conservation.

To kick start the community yak farm, 49 yaks including five males were procured from Bumthang, Haa, Thimphu and Wangdue Dzongkhags in first phase. Additional 45 yaks will be procured in December 2015 for second phase. Prior to yak procurement, about 100 acres of rangeland development had been completed including the fencing at Tevethang, Phokpai and renovation of herder sheds at Namgong.

The same traditional migratory practice of the past is being followed for yak migration and at present, yaks are stationed at Phokpai which is four hours uphill walk from Tevethang. The community yak farm will be initially managed by NCAN for two years and after that it will be handover to concerned community with management plan including group by-laws.

Reviving of yak rearing culture in Tang is expected to bring economic benefit including employment opportunities to Narut community in long run through ecotourism development apart from restoring the age old tradition.

Submitted by Pema Wangda and Wangchuk, NCAN

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