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Archive for February, 2009

Buddhist answers to common questions

February 20, 2009 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: News

20 February, 2009 – Lam Shenphen Zangpo answers basic questions that every Bhutanese man, woman, and child on the street wants to know.

The recent lifting of the ban of meat sales during auspicious months raises questions about vegetarianism. Some people claim that Buddhists should not eat meat. Yet, even our lams take meat. What actually is Buddhism’s position on meat eating?
When discussing meat consumption, it is important to consider the debate in context. Buddhism is not a moral, but wisdom based path. When the Buddha rose from his seat of kusha grass under the bodhi tree, he did not intend to establish a religion called Buddhism, but instead point the way for all beings to awake to their rich, innate heritage of basic goodness. 

When we consider any Buddhist practice, we should bear this in mind. Rules of conduct are subordinate to this ultimate goal. (more…)

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Nabji-Korphu’s cardamom glory days

February 20, 2009 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Environment, News

A blight once decimated their only cash crop, now hope springs anew 

The cardamom disease left Nabji-Korphu high and dry

20 February, 2009 – A sweet fragrance of cardamom fills the air in Nabji Korphu as the evening breeze blows over the quiet village. But the cardamom story is not as sweet as its fragrance when villagers recall how their main cash crop was wiped out a decade ago.

Located at the foothills of the rugged Black Mountain range between Trongsa and Zhemgang dzongkhags, Nabji Korphu was once famous for its abundance of cardamom, claim villagers. Not anymore.

Today, acres of cardamom plantation lie overgrown with bushes and farmers, who’d grown rich on the spice, blame a disease, which dried their source of cash.

It all started in the early 1990s, say farmers. “The plant’s leaves turned yellow, wilted and died; the fruit became hard and the juice white,” said a farmer. “It was all over.”

The blight (a plant disease), which affected many cardamom growing regions, did not spare Nabji- Korphu. “Within years, villagers started working as daily wage earners for cash,” said a farmer.

Villagers said that, a decade ago, people of Nabji Korphu were fairly rich. With cardamom as their staple cash crop, almost all of the 221 households earned about Nu 20,000 to Nu 150,000 a year. (more…)

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Eco-trail windfall for local economy

February 18, 2009 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Culture, Economy, Environment, Gross National Happiness, Rural Development, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Travel, Tourism & Bhutan

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. (more…)

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Equine fatalities from epotorium plant

February 09, 2009 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Economy, Environment, Rural Development, Sustainable Development, Tourism & Bhutan

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. (more…)

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Water scarcity threatens three villages in Trongsa

February 09, 2009 By: Bridge to Bhutan Category: Environment, Gross National Happiness, Rural Development, Sustainable Development

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.” (more…)

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