Five villages of Chumey cultivate only wheat given the issue 

Agriculture: Given the rampant human-wildlife conflict in five villages of Chumey, Bumthang, many farmers today opt to leave their lands fallow and use only a small portion of it to cultivate wheat.

People in the villages of Zhurey, Chungphel, Ketsho, Bhim and Terzoe in Chumey own significant amounts of land. However, they are not able to utilise it to full potential given human-wildlife conflict.

Pema, 74, from Chungphel said people used to cultivate all kinds of crops like wheat, buckwheat, potato and barley in the past. “The inevitable destruction by wild animals has made people stop cultivating like they did before,” he said, adding that people now grow vegetables for their self-consumption.

However even these vegetable gardens are raided by wild animals like porcupines, wild boars and deer.

Samten Wangchuk, 55, owns a few acres of land that is mostly left fallow. He cultivates some wheat today. “Around 20 wild boars keep attacking the fields even during the daytime,” he said.

In Zhurey village, five farm guardhouses are placed on around six acres of land where wheat is grown indicating how serious the human-wildlife conflict is in the villages. The guardhouses are occupied all night.

Villagers said the wheat fields have to be guarded regularly until it is harvested.

Kinga Tshomo, 56, from Zhurey said women in the village weave yathra and other woolen products while men are out looking for work, or doing odd and temporary jobs to supplement the women’s income.

“People here are not dependent on agriculture unlike in other dzongkhags,” she said.

Kinga Tshomo owns about five acres of fallow land. She weaves yathra and other woolen products along with her two daughters. “I’ll go back to farming provided that our lands are protected by electric fencings,” she said, adding that in the places like Zhurey, electric fencing should not be a problem as all the lands are adjoined.

Another villager who owns about 10 acres of land said that in the past villagers continued to cultivate their land despite destruction by wild animals. However, people gave up over the years, as imported rice became easily available.

Bumthang’s dzongkhag agriculture officer Gaylong said they did not look into the possibility of setting up electric fencings until last year, as it required adjoined land.

Gaylong said the sector and the gewog administration is studying the location and farming potential of the land to see if electric fencing can be provided.

Nima Wangdi | Chungphel