farmer Rajesh Bisht says he does not believe in the popular IMACHALPRADESH Hindi proverb Bandar kya jaane adrak ka swad (What does a monkey know about ginger’s taste) as he stands in his ginger plantation at 4 AM to guard against wild monkeys.Marching through the slush in his leech-infested field on a cold July morning,the resident from Chaukha village in Sirmaur district says farmers take turns to guard against wild animals.
At 10 AM,Ramesh Verma,a retired animal husbandry official who now does farming in Chaukha village, hurries from his farm to attend a meeting called at the sarpanch’s residence to address the issue of monkey menace. Monkeys had destroyed his entire corn plantation last year. “I had invested 50,000 to plant corn on my 1.2-hectare (ha) farm. Monkeys completely destroyed it,” he says.Ironically,the drawing room where the meeting is convened has a big Hanuman calendar on its wall.“We worship Hanuman but these monkeys are not his descendants. They belong to the evil monkey king Bali who was slain by Lord Ram,”clarifies Chaukha’s sarpanch Mandakini Devi.Verma says that livelihood is more important than religious beliefs. “Our ancestors warned us that the day monkeys start raiding crops, you know apocalypse has arrived,”he says.