Yam jam gives Bengal farmers relief from raiding jumbos (India)
Pranab Mondal, The New Indian Express
September 9, 2022
KOLKATA: Yam is not quite yum, so farmers of Kalchini block in West
Bengal’s Alipurduar district have begun planting these tubers to keep
marauding elephants at bay.
Fed up with repeated attacks by pachyderms targeting valuable cash crops,
almost all the farmers of Kalchini have begun planting yam, which causes
food pipes to itch in both humans and animals, to thwart the elephant
forays into their cultivated fields.
This deterrence has had its desired effect in stopping the elephants from
plundering paddy, vegetable, betel or areca nut crops.
This is attested to by Deputy Agriculture Officer (Administration)
Harishranjan Roy who said that the yam cultivation method has so far proved
effective to stop the elephants from raiding the other crops.
Roy said that his department “plans to use the same method in other parts
of Alipurduar district that elephants target”.
Kalchini adjoins Buxa tiger reserve and the elephant herds in this area
usually make their forays after sunset.
Ghanashyam Chetri, a farmer, said his finances took a hit as cultivating
cash crops became impossible because of the menace.
“The betel nut crops were completely destroyed as an elephant herd rampaged
about in an overnight attack. Last year, I learnt that yam is not preferred
by elephants. I planted yam and it has produced excellent results,” a
much-relieved Chetri said.
Yam is sold at wholesale markets for `30-35 per kg. An entire root, which
is fleshy and starchy, can weigh between 5 and 10 kg.
Another farmer, Jogesh Sutradhar, echoed Chetri’s plight.
“Last year, the paddy crop was ripe for harvesting and I planned to do so
the next day. In the morning, I found that the entire crop had been
destroyed. This was followed by many other attacks. This time, yam, which
has a good demand in the markets of the Dooars and Bhutan, did the trick.
The elephants stayed away. "
Keeping Away from the Itchy Tuber
Additional Divisional Forest Officer Partha Pratim Tripathi said yams cause
itching in the oesophagus.
“So elephants pass by yam fields and not venture into fields where other
crops are grown,” he said.