Lhakpa Quendren

Farmers in Kikhar village, Zhemgang, can finally breathe a sigh of relief as they no longer need to tirelessly guard their fields against wild animals.

This welcome respite comes as a pilot project introducing chain-link fencing has been successfully implemented in the Jang Ari paddy fields.

In the past, as the paddy cultivation season kicked off, farmers from Kikhar had to undertake a daily hour-long trek to the Jang Ari paddy fields to protect their hard-earned crops after a taxing day of fieldwork. Nearly every household had a small hut on their farms dedicated to guarding duty, with some huts being shared by multiple farmers who collectively guarded their crops.

Chimi, a 51-year-old farmer, shared his relief, saying, “For the first time, I don’t need to stand guard against wild boars and deer. I’ve been guarding crops since my childhood with my parents.”

He attributed the success to the chain-link fencing, highlighting its effectiveness in keeping wild boars at bay due to its sturdy foundation. Chimi expressed optimism about the long-lasting protection it offers, stating, “Chain-link fencing is very durable compared to other options. We are hopeful it will provide a lasting solution for crop-protection over two decades.”

Sangay Lhamo, a 33-year-old farmer with 50 decimals of land, also praised the chain-link fencing for not only safeguarding their crops but also making household chores easier for women. She recounted their previous fears of encountering wild animals on their way to the field and the constant worry about their crops when they couldn’t attend to guard.

Recognising the benefits, durability, and effectiveness of chain-link fencing, farmers are urging the extension of this initiative to other villages facing similar challenges.

Tshering Yangchen from Pam village pointed out that they still face crop-protection issues due to the ineffectiveness of solar fencing. She said, “The same issue persists in other villages in the gewog. Without the government’s support, we will continue to face the same challenges.”

Despite previous efforts by the government to address the issue, such as electric and solar fencing, farmers argue that these measures failed to effectively tackle their concerns.

One farmer noted that while electric fencing initially worked well, it became unsustainable in recent years, leaving many without the desired protection.

The chain-fencing project in Kikhar village was executed by the Zhemgang dzongkhag and Nangkor Gewog administrations, with support from the Global Environment Facility.

Valued at Nu 3 million, the project covers over 100 acres of paddy fields, spanning approximately three kilometers in length.

Its success offers a ray of hope to farmers, proving that the right solution can alleviate the longstanding challenges they face in protecting their crops from wildlife damage.