Electric fencing of farmland is quickly gaining popularity among farmers across the country. The farmers say the electric fence helps in reduction of crop damages, therefore, helps to increase crop cultivation and crop diversity. Farmers also spend less time guarding the crops and it is helping in the reduction of fallow land.
According to an impact assessment study, conducted by the Research Development Centre (RDC) in Wengkhar, the use of electric fence in the agricultural areas has reduced human-wildlife conflict, from as elevated as 100 percentage before fencing to as low as 10 percentage after fencing.
As of November 2015, the electric fencing has been set up in all 20 dzongkhags to shield crops from wild animals.
Without electric fencing in the past, the ministry recorded over 7,542 metric tons of cereal crops damage from across the country by the wild animals, and about 493 livestock were reported to have been killed by predators.
As of November 2015, Department of Agriculture (DoA) and Department of Forests and Park Services (DoFPS) have established about 650 km of electric fencing, benefiting more than 3,744 households and protecting 7,698 acres of farmland in the country.
As of now, Sarpang has the highest length of electric fencing established with 112 km followed by Trashiyangtse with 70.3km and Dagana with 62.5 km.
However, when it comes to the total area covered, Trashiyangtse has the highest coverage of about 1801.7 acres followed by Trashigang with 1170.32 acres and Sarpang with 593.0 acres.
Meanwhile, Trongsa, Paro and Chukha have the least length of electric fencing established.
Electric fencing has been established in all the 20 dzongkhags, and the positive outcome has helped to increase food sufficiency by 30 to 40 percent, apart from the reduction in crop damages by wild animals.
In efforts to enhance food security and crop protection, DoA alone has established about 382 km length of electric fencing, benefitting 3,348 households and covering 4,346.34 acres of dry land and 1,679.2 acres of wetland in the country through locally fabricated materials for the electric fencing.
While DoFPS is engaged in conservation and protection of wildlife, the department has also set up electric fencing in the protected areas in the country, and established about 269 km length of electric fencing benefitting 296 households across Bhutan.
As per the research carried out by the ministry, of all the measures developed to mitigate human-wildlife conflict, and the locally fabricated electric fencing proves to be of greater help to the farming community.
RNR RDC Wengkhar with support from the government and various agencies and donors has started developing locally fabricated electric fence with available materials to cut down the cost and test its efficacy in reducing crop damage by wild animals.
A simple energizer operating technology based on the concept of capacitive discharge ignition (CDI) has been developed in the plant protection laboratory in RNR RDC Wengkhar. While the use of the technology is found to be effective on most wild animals, according to the officials, appropriate designs have to be made for specific types of animals such as elephants and monkeys.
The integration of other methods such as sound and light repellent and trenching are being tested to improve the efficiency of electric fence systems.