After a decade of using electric fencing and facing constant challenges in coexisting with wildlife, the residents of Tongling in Lhuentse’s Minjey Gewog have decided to switch to chain-link fencing. This village will be the first in the district to receive this type of fencing. The government has initiated multiple chain-link fencing projects across the country to enclose more than 3,000 acres of agricultural land and help nearly 1,000 households. Chain-link fencing is a type of fence made of galvanised or steel wire and has a zig-zag pattern of wires.
The chain-link fence in Tongling will cover four kilometres and benefit about 70 households in the village. It will enclose nearly 130 acres of wetland, and the villagers are optimistic that it will help prevent wildlife from damaging their crops.
“Before we were able to harvest only half of the crops due to wild boars, reindeer, deer, monkeys, and porcupines,” said Chencho Dorji, a resident of Tongling.
The Gewog’s agriculture office says although chain-link fencing is expensive, it is a more sustainable option that requires less maintenance in the long run.
Additionally, due to the high quality of the fencing materials, the villagers are hopeful that it will be a one-time investment. Currently, each household is responsible for installing its fence.
“We discussed how the fence is not meant for others and is solely for our benefit. Therefore, when we have support from the government, under my supervision, we will not compromise the work quality,” said Zepa Jatsho, Minjey-Wazhing Tshogpa.
The gewog office is hopeful that after receiving the fence, the villagers of Tongling will diversify their crops beyond just paddy, which has been their sole focus until now.
The installation of the chain-link fencing is expected to be completed within two months.
During a recent press conference, the Agriculture and Livestock minister stated that chain-link fencing is being installed in vulnerable and clustered areas, as well as in places where agricultural activities are ongoing.
“The actual allocation of the budget for chain-link fencing was Nu 198 M and that was targeted to establish a chain-link of around 117 kilometres. But we have been able to receive around Nu 174 M from January and then the chain-link fencing is currently being carried out in all the twenty districts. The total budget of Nu 173.8 M is going to fence 119 kilometres of land,” said Yeshey Penjor, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock.
The minister added that the quality of the fencing materials and specification parameters are set and monitored by the district engineers, while the procurement is carried out by the District Tendering Committee to ensure transparency and fairness in the process.
The minister added that every year, more than 43 per cent of crops in the country are damaged by wild animals.
Electric and barbed wire fencing has been used in the past, but they are not always effective in preventing smaller animals from entering the fields, which is why the government implemented the chain-link fencing project.