Farmers reap benefits from Lemon fence pilot project in Assam
NE India Broadcast
March 22, 2023
Homestead areas around a few non-descript thatch-roofed farm houses in
Soraguri Chapori located on the bank of the Brahmaputra at Dikhowmukh area
in Sivasagar district in Assam are standing examples of how affordable
bio-fences in a human-elephant conflict (HEC) hotspots can restore
livelihood and protect lives of farmers and also supplement their income.
As one travels from Sivasagar town in Upper Assam to the historic Ajan Pir
Dargah at Dikhowmukh area, those farm houses surrounded by tall and thick
lemon fences look discernible from a distance from the road.
As one comes closer to these farm houses, they disappear from the eyesight
behind the thick and tall lemon fences that fortify those and one will
unfailingly notice hundreds of lemon fruits dangling from these bushes
while some ripe-yellow ones lying on the ground.
“These lemon fences not only protect us and our farmstead from wild
elephants that often move through our areas deviating from the river
course, their usual route, on searches of fodder, but also provide us a
substantial income per month. We thank Aaranyak for undertaking the pilot
project of lemon fences in your farmland,” said Nitul Das who owns a
farmstead in the area.
He informed but for these lemon fences, life had been nightmarish in the
area because of frequent raid by wild elephants which used to devour and
destroy their vegetable cultivations till three years back. Nitul Das said
besides providing a shield against wild elephants, the lemon fences now
provide an income of around Rs 8000 per month to his family. Usually he
sells 100 lemons at the rate of Rs 800.
Neighnour Rinku Das, an aged farmer, is now happy that because of the
protection provided by the lemon fences areas his farmstead, he now can
grow varieties of vegetables and earn substantially as wild elephants no
longer raid his farm.
“Since the plantation of the lemon fence, though wild elephants come close
to the bio fence but goes back without harming my crops. It is now possible
for me to cultivate crops inside the fence that are protected”, said
another Sombar Hazarika.
“We have provided alternative crops to people living in some of human
elephant conflict after two years of field experimentation. Farmers are
encouraged to cultivate crops which are less palatable to wild elephants.
These tried and tested alternative crops include Homoloma, Wild turmeric,
Taro roots, Lemon Grass etc.” said Dr Bibhuti Prasad Lahkar, a Senior
Scientist of Aaranyak and a senior member of IUCN SSC Asian Elephant
According to Aaranyak’s senior field official in the bio-fence pilot
project at Soraguri Chapori, Niranjan Bhuyan, several farmers were provided
with lemon saplings and trained by Aaranyak as part of its pilot project on
how to plant those in three rows around their farmstead. Some of the
farmers accepted the projects whole-heartedly and are now reaping benefit
besides getting protection from inevitable rains by wild elephants.
Aaranyak has been supporting farmers, women SHGs from indigenous
communities and Elephant Conservation Network (ECN) members in alternative
crop practices in HEC hotspots of Baksa, Goalpara, Golaghat, Sivasagar and
Udalguri districts of Assam with an aim to facilitate human- elephant