Tshering Namgyal | Lhuentse
As the name suggests, a dairy farmers’ group called Lhamo Norgyuen (the goddess of wealth) in Minjey gewog in Lhuentse is thriving today.
The group, which was initially formed in 2013 by 26 farmers, failed and most members resigned. Some members even left the villages.
However, 16 members from three chiwogs of Bragong, Jalang and Minjey, revived the group and each member earns about Nu 7,000 to 25,000 a month from selling milk. Each member of the group rears three to 10 Jersey cows.
According to the group members, they have been actively processing and selling the dairy products like butter and cheese since last year and the group sold over 1,100 kg of butter and 16,000 balls of cheese. A kilogramme of butter is sold at Nu 300 while cheese is sold at Nu 40.
Last year, a member, Jampel Dema, who is also the accountant, ran the processing unit. She marketed the products herself. Other members were paid Nu 35 a litre of milk. A record with the unit the shows processed cheese and butter fetched them around Nu 1 million last year.
However, since the beginning of this month, they have agreed to let a group of members, Jampel Dema as the leader and other members taking turns to help, run the unit. The group pays Jampel Dema a monthly salary of Nu 8,000 in a month.
Members said it was much convenient to market their products and it had improved their livelihood.
A member from Jalang chiwog, Yeshi Tshomo, who earned about Nu 9,000 a month from selling 10-litre milk a day, said the group benefitted her market her dairy products easily.
Jampel Dema said that except for some surplus butter sold in Thimphu in summer last year, cheese, milk and yoghurt were easily absorbed in the local market.
However, beginning this month, the group also commenced making yoghurt after they exhibited their first product during the national day celebration last year at Autsho.
The group managed to sell more than 2,300 cups of yoghurt were sold in the market until now. Each cup of yoghurt is sold at Nu 18 to 26 depending on the distance and the transportation cost involved. The customers are mainly schools and livestock products selling counter at Lhuentse town.
Group members said they would now focus more on yoghurt and supply to the schools in the dzongkhag and beyond.
Minjey gewog extension officer, Tashi Tshering, said dzongkhag and CARLEP project also supported the members with 30 percent subsidy on cattle, and material and technical support for dairy shed, silo pit and biogas, besides four to five times dairy-related training in a year.
CARLEP project supported the processing unit with equipment like butter churner, cream separator, milk pasteuriser, curd making machine and deep freezer.