Last year, the government spent Nu 11 million to fence 500 acres of farmlands to protect crops from wild animals, according to Sanam (Agriculture) Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor.

In the next fiscal year, Lyonpo said, the local governments in the country would fence farmlands with 1,563km electric and 1,165km barbed wire fencing.

This was in response to Maenbi-Tsaenkhar MP Choki Gyeltshen’s question on the implementation status of Bardo-Trong MP’s motion in the last session to provide a 50 percent subsidy on barbed wire fencing to address the issue of human-wildlife conflict (HWC).

Sanam Lyonpo said that HWC was an issue that persisted for a long time and it would continue in the future.

He said that 50 percent was the minimum subsidy on fencing and that the government gave 80 percent subsidy as well.

Lyonpo said that the government had asked the local leaders to explore options that would best protect crops in their locality. “Since different animals damage the crops, uniform fencing throughout the country is not applicable.”

Past reports show that in recent years, HWC has increased drastically. Studies have shown that it is expected to further increase in the future.

Records show that livestock depredation in central Bhutan by wild carnivores, including leopard, tiger, Himalayan black bear, and dhole account for an average annual financial loss of 17 percent of farmers’ total per-capita cash income, with leopard and tiger causing the maximum loss.

Bartsham-Shongphu MP Passang Dorji (PhD) asked Lyonpo about the scarcity of pesticides in the market and whether the ministry had plans to make local organic manure or fertilisers to address the issue.

“If the country can produce enough organic manure, then we do not need to import it,” he said, adding that local production will help the economy and realise the goal of self-reliance.

Sanam Lyonpo said that the agriculture ministry’s National Organic Flagship Programme would focus on producing organic manure, vermicompost and bio-fertiliser.

The flagship would provide private companies and youth opportunities to engage in the production of organic manure that would increase agriculture production and create employment opportunities, he said.

Lyonpo said that based on the Basel Convention, an international treaty to reduce the movements of hazardous waste between nations, India had stopped the export of fertilisers.

He said that the ministry was working with the agents to supply chemical fertilisers.

“Weedicides or pesticides can endanger lives. Some weedicide can make the soil lose its nutrients,” he said, adding that considering the negative impact on the environment, its usage should be reduced.

By Chhimi Dema

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk