Agriculture Ministry returns about five acres land to landowners

The land occupied by the Paro Valley Area Development Project was finally handed over to the landowners today. It was handed over by the Agriculture Minister Lyonpo Pema Gyamtsho to the Member of the Parliament from Lamgong-Wangchang constituency in Paro, Lyonpo Khandu Wangchuck. 

The land was acquired by the Department of Agriculture in 1990 from 13 farmers under Shari geog in Paro to establish the Paro Valley Area Development Project. The Department of Agriculture paid the farmers Nu. 653 per decimal as compensation. But subsequently, attempts to change the land ownership failed due to disputes over the provision of access road to landowners along the project boundary and demarcation and fencing of the land acquired by the project.  Continue reading Agriculture Ministry returns about five acres land to landowners

Nichula geog in Dagana to get a suspension bridge

Nichula geog in Dagana dzongkhag is one of the remotest geogs in the kingdom. For most of the year, it remains cut off from rest of the Kingdom by the swelling Sunkosh River. There is no bridge and motorable road connecting the geog is a distant dream. People including officials use rafts or boats to commute to the village. Things are however set to change for the better with the construction of a suspension bridge about to begin. 

Crossing this huge body of water using the services of the rafts is not for the faint hearted. It is a risky business especially during the summer when the river swells ominously. So before the Monsoon begins, residents travel to Lhamoizingkha to buy stocks of rice, cooking oil, and other essential items.  Continue reading Nichula geog in Dagana to get a suspension bridge

Snowstorm cuts off Merak

A powerful snowstorm on February 25 blew away roofs of more than 50 houses, school buildings and a veterinary clinic in Merak, Trashigang. 

The jamtho (parts of roof) of an old temple, Samtenchholing lhakhang, and the gewog guesthouse were also damaged.But there were no casualties said the Sakten dungpa, Tshewang Tobgay, who was informed by a yak herder, who managed to get through the snow and return from Merak yesterday afternoon. Continue reading Snowstorm cuts off Merak

Eco-trail windfall for local economy

Tourism spin-off uplifts Trongsa farmers’ standard of living

The trail is the source of additional income to farmers

It’s now winter but farmer Thinley of Trongsa is looking forward to next autumn. Not that he’s particularly crazy about the season, though things may seem nicer then. What he’s excited about is the stream of tourists that the fall delivers.

Tourists mean opportunity for work, to make some money.

The 50-year-old lanky man from Nabji village, made about Nu 10,000 in 2008 portering tourist bags and tents and foodstuff using his ponies. Fortunately for him, since the government opened the Nabji-Korphu eco-tourism trail, tourists have been coming to the region. Their numbers are not huge, but enough to keep him occupied- from autumn through winter, the seasons tourists visit. Winter is not bitter cold like in Paro or Bumthang, it’s relatively balmy. Continue reading Eco-trail windfall for local economy

Equine fatalities from epotorium plant

Nabji-Korphu horses falling by the eco-tourism trail

Nabji: Horses are the only means of transport

When the government started the Nabji-Korphu eco-tourism trail a few years ago, locals residing along the trail found in horses a source of quick cash inflow. The trail became popular with tourists and farmers grabbed the new opportunity with both hands. However, with many horses falling victim to what villagers suspect to be a strange disease in the last two years, locals are worried sick.

“My two mules died last year, causing me a loss of Nu 30,000,” said Pema Gyeltshen from Korphu. Pema Geltshen, a father of five school-going children, ferries loads from Reutala, the nearest road head to his village. “With the opening of Nabji-Korphu eco-tourism trail, horses become an important source of income to us,” he said, adding that, given the remoteness of the place, horses were the only means of transport.

In Korphu, almost all the 186 households own about two to three horses each. With numerous reports of horses dying, villagers are anxious. “Last year alone, Korphu lost about 30 horses,” said a 66-year-old resident, Yuden. Villagers say that about 20 horses died in 2008 in Nabji and at least six died in Nimzhong village. They say that horses do not survive even a day if they have the disease. A tshogpa from Nabji village, Dorji, lost his three horses, one by one, to the fell disease. “I lost about Nu 36,000,” he said. Continue reading Equine fatalities from epotorium plant

Water scarcity threatens three villages in Trongsa

With their only drinking water source drying up quicker than they imagined, farmers in three villages in Langthel gewog, Trongsa are being threatened of drinking water shortage.

Villagers from Bezam, Ngormey and Sheling in lower Trongsa said that they had to skip meals sometimes because there was not enough water for all the households. Although the government had, under the rural water supply scheme, provided drinking water to the three villages, the source was not reliable, according to villagers.

“The water is not enough, the source is not reliable,” said Jigme, a 70 year-old farmer from Ngormey pointing to a dry tap in front of his house. “The tap remains like this (dry) for weeks. There is not enough water to even cook meals.” Continue reading Water scarcity threatens three villages in Trongsa

A Demon-inspired Migration

Farmers in rural Bhutan abandon their villages when wild animals attack crops or humans, or they lose their farmland to landslides or even in search of a better life. Phungshing villagers in Thrimshing dungkhag have a spookier reason. Villagers started leaving Phungshing in the early 1990s when the local paw (shaman) told them that the death of a middle-aged villager was caused by a demon that resided below the village. More people died in the following years and villagers started abandoning Phungshing in droves.

Located on a gentle slope of a low hill descending into the Ngera Ama chhu (river), Phungshing is a fertile village where farmers grow maize, potato, chili and orange. According to villagers, since the shaman’s warning, many people, who did not heed the warning, died. They say most deaths were sudden and strange.  About half a dozen people from that village have perished so far. A household, according to villagers, moved away for good after losing two members in successive years. Continue reading A Demon-inspired Migration

Second largest protected area inaugurated

15 December, 2008 – It was a tribute to the Wangchuck dynasty for a century of visionary leadership in conservation of Bhutan’s rich natural heritage. And for once, it was the only protected area comprising of all four national symbols-flower, animal, tree and bird.

Prime Minister Lyonchhoen Jigmi Y Thinley inaugurated the second largest protected area in the country, Wangchuck Centenary Park (WCP) in Nasiphel village of Choekhar gewog, Bumthang on December 12.

Covering about 3,736 km sq of north-central region of the country, WCP connected Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park in the west and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east.

Adding to its special features was also the park area being a source of Punatsangchu, Mangdechu, Kurichu, and Chamkharchu, the rivers, which would power hydropower projects. Continue reading Second largest protected area inaugurated

Community Forest – Sowing the seeds of GNH

100th Community Forest handed over to Limbu people as part of centenary celebrations

9 October, 2008 – The social forestry division under the agriculture ministry handed over the 100th community forest on October 6 as part of the celebrations of 100 years of Monarchy in Bhutan.

The 100th community forest, Woongbab community forest, was handed over in Thimphu to the management group of Limbu gewog, Punakha.

Agriculture minister, Lyonpo Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, said that giving an opportunity for local communities to participate in decision making and management of resources was the only policy that promotes all four pillars of Gross National Happiness. Continue reading Community Forest – Sowing the seeds of GNH

Effective Delivery of Kidu to the People

Her Royal Highness Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck

In the course of His Majesty King Khesar’s many tours around the country, His Majesty has granted kidu to the most vulnerable sections of society including, among many others, the disabled, aged, destitute and also students needing financial aid to attend school. In order to ensure the effective delivery of such kidu to the beneficiaries, His Majesty has instructed Their Royal Highnesses the Princesses to constantly travel and work in various dzongkhags. While Ashi Sonam Dechan Wangchuck is based in Thimphu, Ashi Dechen Yangzom Wangchuck lives in Mongar and Ashi Kesang Choden Wangchuck in Bumthang.

Their Royal Highnesses live with the people in order to evaluate and monitor welfare kidu programmes for destitute individuals and students, both from the perspective of improving the well being of the recipient as well as the system as a whole. Their Highnesses undertake regular visits to remote villages in all gewogs in the dzongkhags in order to interact with the youth and rural communities on behalf of His Majesty. Continue reading Effective Delivery of Kidu to the People