Like every year, farmers across the country are busy again. All thanks to wild animals’ depredation; which still continues to haunt our farmers year after year.
Huge areas of maize field are being lost to wild animals in places like Rangjung in Trashigang, thus leaving almost nothing for the poor farmers to thrive on after having toiled in the farms from dawn till dusk. Almost all the gewogs in Trashigang that depend on agriculture are presently reporting damages of crops and vegetables mainly by wild boars, monkeys, porcupines, and deer.
And if it’s not the wild boars and monkeys, another issue is the disease and pests. There is already a report of how armyworm infestation is becoming a nightmare for the farmers of Kalapang and Mangling villages of Mongar. Presently, almost every household of these two villages is losing their crops to the worms.
Such activities are only increasing every year, while farmland continues to shrink. And even the numerous mechanisms farmers have devised to protect their 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, disease and pests.
In Sipsu gewog in Samtse, most farmers are somewhat reluctant when it comes to taking up paddy cultivation. This is because of the wild elephants increasingly rummaging their paddy fields.
Farmers risking their lives and guarding against the mighty predators to save a little of what they have sowed had almost become a routine in Sipsu.
Similarly in a few other places, farmers are waiting to receive compensation for the cattle they lost to wild animals. Similar cases of farmers losing cows and poultry birds and awaiting compensation are aplenty.
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 without that there is no reason for them to stay back in their villages.