Migration: The 20-minute walk up from Dangdung village, Langthel gewog, Trongsa, towards Lingtoe village reveals the ruins of irrigation channels and other structures covered in overgrowth.
It can be seen that terrace after terrace of paddy fields are being reclaimed by the forest with pine trees sprouting on them instead of rice saplings today.
The people of Lingtoe village have been abandoning their village in the past few years.
Some, still living in Lingtoe said that many had left the village, as they could not save their crops from wild animals.
Those who owned land located close to the motor road in Dangdung have migrated there because of better economic opportunities.
The ones who do not own any land by the road and the elderly have remained in Lingtoe despite the inability to cultivate any crops.
Tshering Lhamo, 68 is one of the residents of the village. She said there used to be five houses in Lingtoe but there are only three houses remaining today. Of the three houses, one has already been vacated which means there are only two households left. Only five people stay in the two houses.
Tshering Lhamo said there was a time when people cultivated paddy and the whole village looked beautiful. “Today, it is disheartening to see all the fields in and around the village fallow and not many people around,” she said.
The people of Dangdung also own paddy fields in Lingtoe village besides the Lingtoeps.
Tshering Lhamo said they could not protect their crops from wild boars and people gave up. “It’s been some eight years since the fields here have been left fallow,” she said.
Another reason for the people leaving their paddy fields fallow was scarcity of water in the area for both drinking and irrigation.
Tshering Lhamo fenced her fields and was able to stop destruction by wild boars but could not find a way to stop rats. “We can’t even guard vegetable gardens as porcupines keep destroying them,” she said. She pointed out that at one point of time, she used to store a good amount of paddy and even lent it to people who needed. Tshering said that today, she has to buy rations.
Tshering said she would never move out of the village as she was born there. She has six daughters and two sons. Except for one daughter, her other children have moved out.
Tshering’s neighbour, 61-year-old Rinchen Nidup said he makes his living by herding cattle. He said he is unable to move out of the village, as he doesn’t own land in other places nor can he afford to buy land elsewhere.
“Even I had to leave my two Langdos of paddy field fallow as others started leaving their fields fallow,” Rinchen said. Langdo is an area of land a pair of bulls can plough in a day. Rinchen lives with his younger sister and his only son is a monk.
Other villagers said they could keep away wild boars by fencing their fields using wooden fencing but they could not protect their paddy from rats.
Nima Wangdi | Trongsa