Lhakpa Quendren | Sarpang

Singye, a resident of Chhuzagang in Sarpang, has experienced a devastating blow to his livelihood due to the ongoing outbreak of lumpy skin disease (LSD). Losing both a milking and a pregnant cow, Singye and his family have suffered substantial economic losses.

The loss of these two crossbreed Jersey cows not only impacts their daily self-consumption but also strips away a vital source of income that supported essential items such as rice, oil, and other necessities.

Singye’s case is not an isolated incident. Across Sarpang, farmers who rely on livestock are grappling with significant losses. Cattle, particularly milking cows and pregnant cows, have been severely affected by the disease, further exacerbating the financial strain on farming communities.

Kharka Bahadur, a resident of Singye Gewog, laments the compromised state of their primary income source. The loss of productive livestock has resulted in dwindling milk production, which directly impacts sales and profitability. Sharing his experience, he reveals, “One of my five milking cows has contracted the disease and is currently recovering. With no available medication for the disease, we feel limited and helpless in our efforts to treat the animals. However, we remain hopeful for a swift recovery and a return to normalcy.”

Tshendu, the assistant dzongkhag livestock officer in Sarpang, assures farmers that the lumpy skin disease outbreak will be temporary based on available research. He explains that efforts are underway to control the spread of the disease through vaccination measures. Additionally, the public has been urged to isolate infected cattle to prevent further transmission.

However, effectively containing the disease presents challenges, particularly in cluster settlements.

Tshendu emphasises that the livestock department is actively working to combat the disease and mitigate its impact on livestock. Blood samples have been collected from affected livestock as part of ongoing efforts to better understand and monitor the lumpy skin disease.

The detection of lumpy skin disease, which had been previously reported in the region, has now raised concerns as it appears for the first time in the country. However, farmers who have suffered losses due to LSD outbreaks are currently not receiving any compensation or financial assistance, leaving them in a precarious situation.

As the battle against lumpy skin disease continues, the farming community in Sarpang remains hopeful for a swift solution and assistance to mitigate the financial burden imposed by the outbreak.

The impact of the disease on both the livelihoods of farmers and the broader agricultural landscape underscores the urgent need for effective measures to combat the spread and provide support to those affected.

Sarpang has reported 1,013 cases of LSD, with 109 cases reported dead since its outbreak. Dekiling Gewog saw the highest with 259 cases, of which 33 died from the disease. Taraythang Gewog has the lowest number, with only five cases and two deaths.