Wildlife: The past year was a good one for the people of Guyum in Pemagatshel.  The village had the best potato yield in recent memory.  Guyum farmers are expecting the same this year when they harvest the crop in June and July.

Farmers say that the crop yield increased after 2013, because of electric fencing that helped reduce instances of human-wildlife conflict.

The 4.2km electric fence surrounding 63 acres of land benefits 23 households of Guyum.  In this clustered village, potato is the main cash crop.  Before the electric fence was installed, farmers would lose about 30 percent of the crop to wild animals.

Last year, most of the villagers were able to take their harvest to the Food Corporation of Bhutan’s auction yard in Samdrupjongkhar.  On an average, each household managed to produce more than 50 bags (one bag contains 60kg of potatoes).

Guyum farmers said that they were now able to earn more from the sell of crop, and sleep peacefully without having to worry about wild animals.

Shacha Pelden, 44, said she made Nu 70,000 from the crop last year.

“The fencing has helped us greatly,” she said. “Probably this is why we see many villagers are extending their potato fields.”

Yagtse, another villager, said the quality of the crop has also improved.

Tshewang Penjor, an elderly villager, said that although electric fence has helped protect fields from bigger wild animals, small animals like porcupines get in. “But it’s not so vast like before.”

Gup Pema Dorji said Guyum is the first village to get an electric fence.  With help from the dzongkhag’s agriculture sector, electric fences will be installed in other villages too.

“The village has fertile land.  Now people are talking about forming a vegetable group,” said Pema Dorji. “Some of them have already planted various kinds of fruits.”

The dzongkhag’s agriculture officer, Kinzang Tshering, said the EU-funded Nu 63,000 electric fence was installed in Guyum, based on a feasibility study.

“Installed with general specification of wires and poles, it was to assess and evaluate the benefit of the fence and to get people’s feedback,” said Kinzang Tshering. “We’ll now install fences based on specified wildlife conflict in the villages.”

By Yangchen C Rinzin,  Pemagatshel