In Paro, changla—rice plantation—is almost done. But the farmers are faced with a new challenge. Stray cattle and ponies are destroying the paddy fields.

Geptay farmers’ WeChat group is filled with pictures of animals in the rice fields. A few days ago, Bidha’s entire plot of paddy seedlings was eaten, trampled, and destroyed.

Village messenger, Chencho, along with the affected individuals, captured the horses. The owners of stray horse from Tsento were asked to collect their animals and compensate for the damages.

Chencho said that horses and stray cattle had ravaged more than 20 households’ paddy fields.

He said that it was difficult to trace the owners. Owners of the animals, who cannot pay for crop damage, do not come to collect the animals.

Taking matters into their own hands, a group of farmers hired a DCM truck and transported three horses to Chelela recently.

Abandoned cattle roaming the streets and destroying fields in Paro is not new.

Without fencing, the fields near the roads and settlements are most affected.

Another rice grower, Gyalpo, said: “We should have strict rules and impose fines on those who fail to take care of their animals.”

In the past, Chencho said that there used to be thosup (farm attendant) who looked after the entire field. Plot owners paid him for guarding the fields.

Without tourism activities due to the Covid-19 pandemic, villagers of Tsento who rely on porter-pony business are struggling to manage their horses and ponies.

Chairman of Horse Contractors Association, Tshering Phuntsho, said it was becoming difficult to manage and feed the animals.

Tshering Phuntsho said horse owners had been paying crop compensation ranging from Nu 2,000 to Nu 10,000 as per the magnitude of the damage.

He said that horse and pony owners registered with the association had so far paid more than Nu 100,000 as crop compensation. “It is becoming difficult with no business and having to pay significantly.”

Most of the porter-pony service providers are recipients of the Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu.

By Phub Dem | Paro

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk