Insurgency reins in horse-rearing business

Devdas Shrestha

Charikot, March 9:

Sherpas around Charikot, whose key source of income has traditionally been horse-keeping, are a troubled lot today as their business has been hit hard by escalating insurgency around the area.

Residents of Lumang and Lepchi villages are at a great loss since their business is not doing well. It is the insurgency that is pulling down their horse-keeping business, feel local farmers. More than 18 families in the two villages have been compelled to quit their traditional horse-keeping business.

Local farmers in Lumnag and Lepchi, who used to sell horses to horse riders in Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Sindhupalchwok, Kavreplanchwok as well as Dolakha districts, are furious as their 15-year-old horse keeping business is in danger of mere survival.

The profession is at risk due to the present political crisis in the country, said Nawa Pasang Sherpa, a local horse farmer. He said the farmers can neither kill the horses nor can they feed themselves.

Throughout the district, only Sherpas of these two villages use to keep horses. Although farmers in neighbouring districts of Solukhumbu, Okhaldhunga, Ramechhap, Sindhuli, Sindhupalchwok and Kavreplanchwok were reported to have been involved in the business at an earlier time.

Sharing his past experience Nawa Pashang says, "We used to sell one horse for a minimum of Rs 16,000 to maximum Rs 22,000 but now, not even a single customer visits our place to buy horses."

Of all the 40 families of Lumnag and Lepchi, 18 families are reported to have been involved in this business. They are feeding horses without taking care of their own food.

Since the sale of horses has been stopped for a long time now, their number is also increasing. Unless peace is restored in the country quickly and the number of tourists go up, the horse keeping business is expected to remain under a cloud.

Local farmers used to carry food and other necessary material from Tibet, on horsebacks to the two villages located at a distance of about 50 km. "Normally, we used to carry food materials from Tasikang in Tibet on hoses during the monsoons," said Aandokto, another horse farmer.

Since horses are not being sold due to insurgency, locals are compelled to use foreign materials. This is also putting local products at a risk. Some of the locals are even being compelled to migrate to other places, as their traditional business faces a grave danger.