Chukha dzongkhag’s priority sector lending (PSL) committee approved an apple-chips manufacturing unit and a shitake (mushroom) cultivation farm projects.

Two Bachelors of Business Administration (marketing) graduates of Gaeddu College of Business Administration, Bikash Gurung, 23, and Tshering Dorji, 24, have proposed Nu 6.5 million (M) to start up the apple-chips manufacturing unit at Paga village, Chapcha, Chukha.

The duo started to approach financial institutions starting March 1. They said the idea of manufacturing apple-chips was developed during their second year in college.

“We had studied and even conducted surveys of its feasibility,” Bikash Gurung said, adding that Gedu people had given good feedback.

Unlike the regular potato chips, Bikash Gurung said people loved the idea of apple-chips.

Their passion intensified in 2017 when they participated in Business Idea Competition of Bhutan at the Thimphu Techpark and secured first runners-up position with the apple chips idea.

Tshering Dorji said PSL has made their venture possible.

“We are grateful to our visionary King for his altruistic and insightful thought for the benefit of Bhutanese people,” he said.

PSL committee in Chukha has been supportive and responded promptly, he said.

Tshering Dorji said they have been having dialogues with different hotels and business outlets in the country. “They are ready to buy once the product hits the market,” he said.

Meanwhile, the duo is hopeful their loan would get sanctioned soon. Until the loan is sanctioned, the National Post Harvest Centre would train them, they said.

PSL, which started in January this year, provides loan schemes for the cottage and small industries (CSI) sector.

An estimated Nu 1.5 billion (B) is being injected into CSI, which is divided into Nu 530M for primary agriculture and livestock production and Nu 950M for non-agriculture CSI.

A loan starting from Nu 0.5M to Nu 10M can be availed from financial institutions with the help of PSL. PSL facilitates commercial banks in the country in providing collateral-free loans for CSI. Interest rates are also slashed and the requirement for a guarantor is not there.

Meanwhile, Karsang Dorji from Samdrupjongkhar is also trying to avail the loan. He has proposed Nu 4.9M for his shitake mushroom project.

“I have applied for a loan from the Bhutan National Bank Limited,” he said.

Karsang Dorji said the bank’s inspection team had visited his site yesterday and did not want to share much. He also has chosen Paga to grow shitake.

Chukha dzongkhag planning officer, Wangdi Gyalpo, said PSL committee had to study and approve the two projects within 10 days time as per the PSL guidelines. “They can now process for loan with the financial institutions.”

He said two other clients have also submitted their proposals. “The proposals have been presented to the respective sectors for study.”

The planning officer said they are receiving several queries on the PSL “Dairy farming, vegetable farming, and bakery are some area of interests people are inquiring about.”

Rajesh Rai | Chukha