Yak Farming In Haa, Bhutan Is Becoming A Vanishing Trade

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Once an important source of livelihood for the people in Uesu Gewog, yak farming has seen its popularity wane over the years as younger generation opt for easier means of livelihood.

(Source: Intrepid Travel)

 

By Samten Dolkar | BBS

About three decades ago, nearly 50 households in Uesu Gewog, Haa practiced yak farming. Today, only six families do so.

64-year-old Tshultrim Dorji from the gewog has been herding yaks for 31 years. He and his family own a total of 69 yaks.

Tshultrim Dorji spends six warmer months up in the mountains of Haa herding family yaks and only moves down to his village as it gets colder as winter approaches. It’s a day-and-half’s journey for this trip.

 

 

Source: Raonline.ch

 

“It’s difficult to herd yaks at my age but I still manage. It would be a pity to sell them off. All our earnings come from it,” he said.

Difficulty in finding successors for the yak farming trade

Once an important source of livelihood for the people in Uesu Gewog, yak farming has seen its popularity wane over the years as younger generation opt for easier means of livelihood.

 

Yak Butter from Bhutan wrapped in leaves for storage

Source: A J Heath Photography

 

With age catching up with him, Tshultrim Dorji wants to put the family yaks in the care of his children. However, his children who desire a more comfortable life, are not keen to take on his yak farming trade.

He is not the only person to face this dilemma, Tshultrim Dorji’s situation mirrors that of other yak herding families in Uesu and other gewogs of Haa.

Thoughts about yak farming from a young man’s perspective

His son-in-law, Penpo Tshering visits him every month with food supplies. He also thinks that yak farming is tough work and this is one of the reasons why young people like him are apprehensive about taking it up.

 

Yak Chugo Cheese

Source: Wordpress/Yvonnestraessle

 

“I’m interested but it comes with many challenges. We wouldn’t be able to do like how our parents do. There are many things you have to be good at. Firstly, the distance to the herding place is too long. Secondly, the making of butter and ‘chugo (hardened cheese) ’ are important parts of yak farming, without which the practice wouldn’t be complete or profitable,” Penpo Tshering said.

Tshultrim Dorji hopes that the government will take steps to ensure the survival of yak farming as an integral part of the lives of the highlanders. And hope really is what keeps Tshultrim and others like him going for now.

 

This article first appeared in BBS and has been edited for the Daily Bhutan.

 


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