Business: If you are in Bumthang and want to taste local food, you might want to visit a single-storey house located a few minutes walk from Chamkhar town towards Jakar Lhakhang.
Popularly known as the buckwheat house, a group of farmers from Jalikhar village, who are members of the Chithuen Rangzhin Tshogpa, run a business named ‘Bumthang indigenous organic food’ from the house. There are 10 farmers in the group.
It is the place from where one can place an order for Bumthang delicacies made from buckwheat like puta (noodles), khuli (buckwheat pancake), jangbali (pasta), bathub. They also sell momo, pizza, cake, cookies, flour, buckwheat hull pillows and mattresses, which are considered to be good for heath, and alcohol products like ara, bangchang, singchang and changkoe.
Zangmo, 70, is one of the group members. She was busy making buckwheat cookies when Kuensel interviewed her. She said members also grow both sweet and bitter buckwheat and bring them here. “We also buy sweet buckwheat from the farmers in the valley as we can’t meet the demand,” she said.
She said they mill the buckwheat in to flour and supply different dzongkhags. “Demand for these flour are so high that our supply cannot meet it,” Zangmo said.
Members said most of the people who come there to eat are those from other dzongkhags. They said people working in Bumthang occasionally ordered food items especially when they played games or sports.
Kinzang Dechen, 32 said women came to cook as and when they received orders. They are paid Nu 300 a day. “We are doing good as of now and will definitely prosper later,” she said.
She said initially people only made a few items out of buckwheat flour but now they make more today. “We get demand from other countries too. Hotels and guesthouses in Bumthang also buy buckwheat flour from here.”
A group member, Nazom, said the establishment of the Bumthang indigenous organic food has not only benefitted them economically but also helped in preserving the traditional food items that were losing popularity among the people over the years. “We are happy that we still make them,” she said.
Dzongkhag agriculture officer, Gaylong, said Bumthang indigeneous organic food was established in 2009 with the aim to preserve indigenous grains and seeds in Bumthang. It was also aimed at enhancing livelihood, food security and environmental wellbeing.
He said national biodiversity centre, department of agriculture’s marketing cooperative and dzongkhag administration provided the financial support to the group.
Meanwhile, there is a seed room constructed behind the buckwheat house where all the seed samples from all four gewogs in Bumthang are kept in respective stalls.
Nima Wangdi | Chamkhar