Agriculture: Agriculture department has been urging farmers of Trashigang to contribute financially to procure materials for electric fencing. Now the first group of farmers in the dzongkhag has come forward with a proposal for the same.

The group from Rangshikhar village has plans to carry out electric fencing works on a cost-sharing basis with the department of agriculture (DOA).

Of the 55 households in Rangshikhar, 43 have agreed to go ahead with the idea. The remaining 12 households, located in the middle of the village, showed no interest. They do not face crop destruction my wild animals as much as other households do.

Rangshikhar Tshogpa Naku said that villagers put up the proposal to the dzongkhag about two months ago. They have not heard from the dzongkhags so far.

“Though we are thinking about going ahead with the cost sharing plan, we are not sure what percentage of the cost should come from us,” he said. “We are also completely unclear on the modalities involved.”

People have requested the dzongkhags to carry out a survey to find out how many kilometres of electric fencing will be required.

“After we are made aware of the modalities, we will again have to carry out another meeting with the villagers to arrive at a definite conclusion,” said Naku.

Dzongkhag’s agriculture officer, D C Bhandari, said that the dzongkhags is working on how the cost-sharing system should be implemented. The initial idea was to let farmers bear the full cost for procuring the materials. The cost for logistics like transportation of materials was to be borne by the department. However, if farmers are not able to do so, they can opt for the cost-sharing basis.

“If villagers come forward with such proposals, the government will not have to invest more and will also benefit the farmers immensely,” said D C Bhandari.

Farmers are also asking how the contribution system should be worked out. Should contribution be made equally from every household? Farmers owning smaller plots said they will end up paying more.

“Besides having to pay more, we might have to contribute more in terms of labour,” said Shera, a farmer from Ashamdelu in Kanglung.

D C Bhandari clarified that monetary contribution will depend entirely on landholding of the villagers. “Farmers with less landholding will pay less.”

But there are also farmers who cannot contribute money to procure electric fence.

“When we can’t afford three meals a day, how are we supposed to contribute for the electric fencing,” said Lobzang, a farmer.

Without electric fencing, farmers have resorted to using illegal electric fences at night using direct current wires. Another common practice is the use to stuffed tigers to scare off animals, particularly monkeys.

D C Bhandari said that the dzongkhags will consider erecting electric fencing only in areas with critical need. “So far, we have provided electric fencing to almost every gewog. We have plans to construct another 13km fence across the dzongkhags.”

Tshering Wangdi,  Trashigang