Until last year, farmers in Gangkhar village in Udzorong gewog, Trashigang spent sleepless nights in temporary sheds guarding their crops from wild animals.

Even during the day, farmers were engaged guarding their crops.

Located atop a hill, the village is surrounded by dense forest making it an easy target for wild boars, porcupines, and monkeys.

“It wasn’t easy when you had to leave behind your pregnant wife at home all alone,” said one of the farmers, Wangchuk. “While trying to save the crops, the wild boars attacked me on several occasions. I escaped with minor injuries.”

According to the annual agriculture statistics 2016, on an average, farmers in Trashigang spent 64 days and nights guarding crops.

However, beginning this year, life became much easier for the farmers with the installation of solar fencing in the village. The village is surrounded by some 4.7km solar fencing covering about 300 acres of land.

“We don’t have to guard our fields the traditional way anymore,” said another farmer. “We can invest that time in doing other productive works.”

This year, the village produced more than 30,000kg maize and 10,000kg beans. In addition, each household produced 15 sacks of peanut.

“This is the highest yield we have harvested in the last few decades,” said the tshogpa of the village, Sonam Tenzin.

He said that before the installation of the solar fencing, farmers used to lose almost 90 percent of their crops to wild boars and porcupines. “Today for about 130kg of potatoes, we harvest almost 300kg yield.”

However, market remains one of the biggest for the people. Currently, Yadi in Mongar and Kanglung and Yonphula in Trashigang are the village’s chief markets.

People travel more than 30km to reach Khengtongmani along the Yonphula-Khaling highway to market their produce.

“It would be much easier for farmers to travel to Yadi if a road can be connected to Sherichu from the village,” said the tshogpa. “Without this connection, the cost of transportation far exceeds the amount people make from their produce.”

Younten Tshedup | Udzorong