Farmers press to put monkey problem on political agenda

Shimla: Man-monkey conflict is taking on political tones as the Kheti Bacchao Sangarsh Samiti has asked political parties to spell out their election agenda for controlling monkey menace which is wrecking agriculture in many parts of the state.

Kuldeep Tanwar, a former forest official and state coordinator for Kheti Bacchao says the hill farmer is having a hard time protecting his crops from wild animals but the political parties don’t seem to be concerned. “Not one has spelled out any plan, nor is there any policy in place for protecting the farmer from wild boars and monkeys,” said Tanwar.

Protecting fruit crops from monkeys is becoming more expensive, each year, as their numbers continue to multiply and more people have to employed to guard orchards lest a wild simian raid damage the crops”, says Vinayak Jisthu, a farmer from Kotgarh.

Farmers from Arki and Nalagarh region are battling wild boars and much of the land has been rendered fallow because they are unable to protect the crops from the wild animals.

Cultivable land in the hilly terrain is sparse and developmental demands for harnessing hydropower and industry, particularly cement units has put further pressure on agricultural lands, said Billy Malhans, an environmentalist.

After farmers held protests, the government agreed to scientific culling and an experimental trial was carried out in Sirmaur district.

“Solan district is badly infested by the monkey problem,” says Pyare Lal Verma, secretary Solan Kishan Sabha, “and the farmers problems can just be gauged by the monkey populations seen along the Kalka-Shimla highway.”

The farmer’s body plans to hold a meet on 4th November and attempt to get the problem included in agenda of the political parties for the forthcoming election.

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