Agriculture: No longer required to guard their fields at night from wild animals, the people of Shingnyer are grateful to the Phrumsingla National Park (PNP) for providing them with solar fenceing.

PNP has solar fenced 95 acres of dry land belonging to  30 households.

A farmer said the solar fence has not only helped keep away the wild animals but has also helped preserve the environment. People harvested lots of poles for fencing every year otherwise.

The farmers said the solar fencing has really eased their lives, as they need not guard their fields like in past years. Bears and wild boars have not been able to get into their fields since the solar fence was put in place, farmers said.

However, there are some 17 households whose lands are still left without solar fencing. They are hoping PNP will also provide the facility soon as the wild animals are now only targeting their fields.

Dema Lhamo, 35, said the solar fencing is done partially and the animals are diverting to those fields without electric fencing. “It has become more difficult for us to guard the crops now,” she said.

She cultivates only on an acre of land while the remaining two acreas are left fallow due to the wild animal problem. “I will cultivate on all the land if solar fencing is put in place,” she said.

Drugay, 59, from Shingnyer said they have to guard their fields from the time they sow seeds until the crops are harvested. “I will be grateful if PNP also provided us with solar fencing at the earliest,” he said.

Ugyen, 50, said the farmers here grow barley, wheat and potatoes and fencing is a must. “If we keep on felling trees at the present rate, the forest around the village will be barren one day,” he said, adding that wild animals destroy at least half their crops today.

PNP’s chief forest officer, Ugyen Namgyel said the park established the solar fencing under funding from the World Wildlife Fund, Bhutan programme. “We will definitely fence the rest of the 17 households soon,” he said.

He also said PNP supplied fencing materials to 181 households of Shingkhar gewog in Zhemgang, Tsamang and Tsaling gewogs under Mongar, Jarey and Metsho gewogs in Lhuntse totalling 252 kilometres of fencing. These are lands that are cultivated within the park area.

Ugyen Namgyel said the International Development Association Project supports solar fencing installation in the eastern region. The community themselves are mandated to contribute labour for installing the fencing.

Finance minister Namgay Dorji inaugurated the solar fencing on October 27. He told the people to take good care of the fencing to enjoy it’s full effectiveness.

Nima Wangdi | Ura