Tshering Namgyal

The otherwise noisy Yakpogang village in Mongar has been quiet for the past three days. There are no screaming children or people loitering about. The village is observing strict lockdown protocol.

An elderly couple are harvesting pepper outside their single-storey house.

While 73-year old Khotsha picks the hanging on the lower branches, his wife Yuden, 50, removes those on the branches.

Before the nationwide lockdown, the couple employed around 30 villagers to harvest the pepper. But only half of 200 trees have been harvested. The couple is worried they may not be able to harvest all before the fruits  fall as they are ripening.

Khotsha said that it was peak season to harvest pepper.

“There were instructions from the local leaders to avoid field work, but this is our only annual income,” he said.

He said that they have not even visited their nearest neighbour.

They usually sell the dried pepper in Samdrupjongkhar and the family earns more than Nu 100,000.

Another villager Rinchen Wangmo was seen gathering fodder in her maize field with her two sons for her three jersey cows.

She said the village friend of police (FoP) restricted the family from eating in a circle outside the house on the first day. Since then they were hesitant to enter their fields.

“I have to collect fodder or else my cows will starve. Otherwise, I don’t even go out to guard my crops because there are rumours of this virus spread by birds,” she said.

A pregnant woman from the village who has to go for routine check up soon said that it took a long time to connect to ambulance service and was worried if she could reach the hospital on time.

A farmer, Pema, who lost a few baskets of maize to monkeys yesterday said his family stayed inside the house after they heard that it was mandatory.  “But we had to chase away the monkeys and install the scare tiger doll,” she said.

Meanwhile home delivery of essential food items for the needy villagers were delivered.

Mongar gewog bolero pickup truck and boleros of volunteers reached six bolero trips of  essential items to the villagers of Wengkhar, Kilikhar, Jaibab, Yakpogang, Themnangbi and Yakpogang Nunnery Center.

Mongar gewog also supplied three bolero trips of mixed vegetables collected from the farmers in the gewog and distributed among Kideykhar Shedra, Yakpogang Anim Dratshang, De-Suups and police personnel on lockdown duty.