Saturday, August 16, 2014

Herbicides are designed to kill weeds, not humans!

Photo of a farmer ploughing the field. Image source: google

From the traditional practice of manual farming, life has become much easier for the farmers of today with the advent of modern technology and sophisticated tools. The Royal Government of Bhutan, through the Ministry of Agriculture has been providing various support services to farmers across communities in an attempt to make the country self-sufficient. Among so many services provided by the Government, the supply of herbicides to help farmers protect their crops from weeds somehow seems to be missing the intended target especially in Samtse Dzongkhag.

Photo of a person spraying herbicides in the paddy-field. Image source: Google

On the afternoon of July 20, 2012, a man in Gathiya in Samtse was found dead in the field just below his house. The family members who gathered at the spot where the body was found, saw that the man had vomited before he died. Most importantly, they noticed that where he had vomited, the grasses had died. They immediately knew that he had consumed the chemical herbicides the family had bought to be used in the fields. Soon, they also found an empty bottle which had contained the chemical nearby. His decision to end his life had stemmed from his extramarital affair with a girl on the other side of the Indian border and subsequent pressures from his own family and that of the girl.

Likewise, in March this year, a woman in Sibsoo had some arguments with her husband while returning from a relative’s house. The subject of the argument was not known but sources say it did not seem anything so serious. When they got home, she had consumed the liquid chemical which was to be used in the fields to kill weeds. She did not die on the spot. She winced violently with pain and vomited. She was taken to Sibsoo hospital which referred her further to Phuntsholing hospital. There, she survived for a few days and died a tragic death. It seems her skin had terribly swollen up and had peeled off as if from a severe burn.

Not long ago, another woman in the neighbouring village went numb when her husband discovered that she was in an illicit relationship with her distant brother-in-law. She tried to best to defend her position but despite hot arguments, she failed to convince her husband that she was innocent. They were actually on their way home from a neighbour’s house. The woman rushed home leaving her husband behind. When the husband reached home, he found that she was already dead. She had consumed the entire bottle of herbicides which was kept in the house.

I am really alarmed by the fact that many people have started using the chemical to kill themselves, for a reason as simple as momentary arguments with the partner. Herbicides are meant to be used for killing weeds but how people learned to use it to kill themselves is strange. Now that a number of people have successfully killed themselves with the chemical, there is a high chance that the number can increase as many others might consider it an easier way to end their lives when they get into similar situations. Before it gets too late, our government must act. I seriously feel that some strategies must be in place to ensure proper use of the chemicals, or for that matter, any facility provided by the government so that the resources do not go in vain. It’s really sad that many innocent people are taking their lives not realizing that their death is a huge loss to their families, community, government and the country. You may not believe it but some of the victims are related to me through marriage. I have been told that herbicides supplied by the Royal Government of Bhutan is not so effective and hence, most of them go for more effective chemicals available in Indian markets. So, as a genuine citizen of a GNH country, I am deeply concerned for my innocent fellow Bhutanese.


  1. It's sad that herbicides that is supposed to be used against weeds are being used for killing oneself. Really saddening. Government's intention is crystal clear here, however, there could be some remedy here. Going by your story, it could plaque innocent villagers.

  2. Yes, Sir, the government's intention is definitely clear. It's just that innocent people are misusing what has been given to them for a different purpose. Thanks for seconding my views la...