Farmers not happy with solar-powered electric fence

A defective battery has been identified by the dzongkhag as the problem

Technology: The fields of Bemji received electric fencing last year but farmers say that the technology has failed to keep wild animals away.

The farmers have to continue guarding their fields even today.

Low voltage and fluctuations in power are being attributed for the failure.

Rinchen Pema, 67, from Bemji said that while the electric fencing has reduced destruction by wild animals compared to past years farmers still have to guard their fields every night.

A committee formed to look after the electric fencing has informed the gewog that the voltage of the solar-powered fence is insufficient. It has also requested the gewog to connect the electric fence to a regular power supply.

“There should be higher voltage and consistent flow of current for it to be effective,” Dophu, 61, from Bemji said.

Sonam Lhamo, 43, also from Bemji said the electric fencing has helped to protect crops from wild animals but there are still incursions.

Another farmer said people could even touch the electric fence because the voltage was too low. “There is no current at all sometimes,” she said.

Ugyen Dema, 60, also said destruction of crops by deer has largely reduced following the construction of the electric fence. Deer used to eat chilli plants immediately after they were transplanted in the past few years, she said.

However, despite the complaints, farmers hope to have their paddy fields surrounded by electric fencing as well. Deer have already started eating their paddy. They expect the situation will get worse once wild boar also begin targeting their paddy fields.

Dzongkhag agriculture officer, Karma Chewang, said a battery problem is to blame in Bemji. The battery does not last despite being charged. “We have already asked the supplier to replace the battery which is expected to come soon,” he said.

He added that most of the villages in Nubi gewog could not have their electric fences connected to the regular electricity supply because their fields are too far from electric points. “If the people are willing to buy cables and electric meters by themselves, there should not be problem in switching to electricity,” he said. He pointed out that the problem is the people want the dzongkhag to buy the cables and metres. He added that the dzongkhag does not have budget to purchase the items.

He said those who are willing to do are already switching to regular electricity supply.

Karma Chewang said that 30 acres of dry land in Bemji was electric fenced last year through the gewog development grant. There are plans to electric fence wetlands in the 2016-2017 financial year.

Nima Wangdi | Trongsa

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