One spring month, just before the leeches came alive, I responded to the call of my duty to tune my direction to Metakha, one remote geog under Chukha Dzongkhag. I have had the enough strength to travel to the destination conquering mountains and vales, negotiating the burgeoning rivers and following the trails passing by the mountain waist, some just bare enough to adjust your feet on ground. All these didn’t allow any room for mistakes in your steps. Yet, the inner adamancy and determination that I must faithfully heed the obligations of my job took me safely to that virgin geog, away from all those urban nuisances.
Virgin, unexplored and raw geog it was, that development has hardly found its way into the Geog. Located on the lap of mountain, fenced by the thick broadleaved forest, 4 days strenuous foot-walk from the nearest motorable road, everything refused to go there, needless to mention the road.
The then, people I met looked most barbaric and orthodox. The village wore the look of those neglected and surviving in its own destiny. The minimal infrastructures present were the only Community School with a teacher who is a boss and a subordinate himself and the newly constructed RNR-Extension Centre with ever expectant of occupants. My arrival did not only relieve the teacher but the farmers too when they finally saw government personnel slowly penetrating into their geog. More and more of people representing government can be interpreted as development in their definition.
People reared large numbers of local cattle, which are not only unproductive but puts up very immense pressure to the forest and vegetations. These cattle were let out free into the jungles on their own with the owner’s taking care of only those milking one. The pigs could be seen tethered in the middle of the fields with few lucky ones sharing the shed under the house. Chicken went on spoiling every freshly sown field and laid eggs in the bushes, which fed the snakes and other creatures instead of the owner.
The same variety of local crops, which yielded not even enough to compensate the intensive labour input, grew in the fields. They resorted to buy imported rice because the stock never lasted them for the year round. Every house is seen with a tree nearby engulfed completely by scauce climbers, some escaped onto rooftop, making the curry preparation not a big deal when they could easily pluck scauce fruit hanging loosely from the rooftop in galore.
Access to forest resources wasn’t a big problem since they had enough. But for those elder villagers, they have felt the pinch when the forest boundaries started running away from the village. The time taken to fetch the firewood has certainly prolonged when the resources started depleting. But most of all they failed to understand that the nature conservation is mandatory for smooth water supply, which their only water source for the village depended. The tseri cultivation (shifting cultivation) posed one big threat to sustainable land management in the geog through my spectacle.
One autumn month, I found myself heading for the same destination but for short official tour. I found myself treading the same path, same ascents and descents. I thought if nothing has changed but a day after I reached the geog, my skepticism got overruled. I was startled at the first instant I made a visit, those thousand visits I have made earlier.
It is too exaggerating to say everyone but for no doubt few have taken up the piggery backyard farming. The jersey bull has come to their village and breeding of cattle is done with him. The RNR-Extension Centre houses many models of pigsty, poultry house and diary shed. One Mr. Kabjib Tshering found it too good and adopted the idea in his own house and few are already planning to follow him.
With numerous promotion programmes, farmers training and free supply of improved crop seeds, many adopted the improved seeds when it promised outturn yields. The cropcut provided them hands-on proof. The kitchen garden sprouted like the fresh mushroom after the rain and they have almost forgotten the sweet taste of scauce.
The dense growth of seedlings planted at the water source and most of all the protection of the area from grazing pressure have immensely helped the quality and volume of water supply to the village. Few have come forward for the Private forest establishment foreseeing the great benefit it will generate. The areas of land under shifting cultivation have certainly dwindled with numerous awareness and education on negative impact of it.
The tone of telephone rings no more scares the people, with telephone having installed in most houses. The bulldozer constructing farm road from Kungkha will soon reach to Metakha. The eye blinding shinning from the CGI roofs in clear autumn sun reflects the radical transition the geog have undergone.
The geog in destitute is more promisingly en route to prosperous future.