During my recent visit to see my old man in Mangdechhu, we were sitting outside his home. As we sat there talking of this and that, three Maruti cars pulled up in front of his house and out came close to 15 young men and women, each bearing a machete in their hands. I was surprised and asked him who they were. He informed me that they were all villagers who were returning after working on their farms - that were being prepared for planting cardamom.
I was intrigued - our farmers now drive Maruti cars to work on their farms? That is rich!
Before I could decide what to make of it, my old man interrupted my thought process:
“Yeshey, what do you think of entire villages abandoning farming and planting cardamom in their farmlands - that which were traditionally used for growing food?"
“I suppose we are due for a shift in our dietary habits - from eating rice and kharang to munching cardamoms."
The old man wasn't amused. He went on:
“Get serious ---- if we do not grow food what are we going to eat? We cannot eat cardamom. Such large-scale production of cardamom all around the country is sure to create a glut in the market. Food production will drop thereby requiring us to import food from Jagga’s yuekha. I don't think this is a good thing that is happening. Not only that, you should remember - because you were in the thick and thin of it - that it was the rampant deforestation cause by cardamom plantation that resulted in the Drukgyal Zhipa nationalizing cardamom plantations in 1979."
“Yes I remember."
“Then?” Why wont the government intervene and halt this nonsense? No doubt the government can foretell the trouble this is bound to cause”.
I looked at my 85 years old dad with a sense of wonderment. One would have thought that he would be oblivious to what is happening around him - engrossed as he is, in silent prayers. Obviously the old man still has a mind that is fertile enough to grasp the consequences of abandoning farming, in preference to growing brown jacket cardamom.
Surely, this dismantles the fallacy that educated people live in the urban centers. Clearly, the educated people live in rural Bhutan, while the literate ones throng to the capital city.