The unending tussle

A man helplessly watches his rummaged field (photo: wfpbhutan.org)

Like every year, the reaping time for farmers isn’t far away, save that they have much less to reap this year. All blames to wild animals depredation; which is becoming rampant each year.

Huge areas of maize field are being lost to wild boars in places like Pemagatshel, thus leaving almost nothing for the poor farmers to thrive on after having had toiled in the farms from dawn till dusk.

The activities of wild boars are increasing every year, while farmland continues to shrink. And even the numerous mechanisms farmers have devised to protect their year-long arduous work or to keep the animals at bay have failed miserably.

This is the same scenario elsewhere too. Farmers are living on the mercy of the wild animals.

In Sipsu gewog in Samtse, most farmers have abandoned paddy cultivation this year. This is because of the wild elephants increasingly rummaging their paddy fields.

Farmers risking their lives and guarding against the mighty predator to save a little of what they have sowed have almost become a routine. They spend sleepless nights throughout the season, shouting and chasing away the wild elephants.

However, the farmers this year have instead opted to work at the coffee plantation project to make a living. They know that it is better to save something than to work so hard and lose everything to the wild elephants.

Similarly in Trongsa, farmers are yet to receive compensation for the cattle they lost to wild animals last year. Similar cases of farmers having had lost cows and poultry birds and awaiting compensation are plenty as well.

Indubitably, human-wildlife conflict has become a contentious issue for quite some years now. The government has pledged to find a solution to this problem, but farmers say this is best rhetoric until now. There is no genuine desire or sheer eagerness to put an end to this predicament.

However, we should be aware that we are up for some serious problem if the situation continues as it is. The repercussions are inevitable. We already have signs before us.

Poor farmers are frustrated, waiting. Some are even on the verge of abandoning farming in totality; leave their ancestral land and home in the village and flock to urban towns.

If this happens, what good would it be then? We are already grappling with rural-urban migration and we are yet to find a solution to this problem.

Moreover, what use would it be even if we exert rural prosperity as the thrust of the five year plan if our rural folks are not there back in the village? We need to understand that what our farmers need now is food and food security; more than anything else. That’s what it matters.

 

 

 

 

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