The pungent smell that greets you at Samtenling about five kilometres before Gelephu from Tsirang may be bothersome, but this is attracting a lot of farmers.

The dregs (spent-grain and sediment) at the Bhutan Centennial Distillery serves as a great feed for cattle and pigs. Farmers from as far as Dagana and Tsirang come down to Gelephu to collect the dregs.

The residue is released through a huge pipe behind the distillery. From the pipe, it is thrown out into a large pond. Sometimes the dregs even flow down towards the Gelephu-Sarpang highway.

Sharab Dorji comes here almost everyday from his home in Dzomlingthang to collect the feed. Before he began taking the free feed from here, he used to buy at least seven sacks of Karma Feed from the market. A sack of Karma Feed cost Nu 1,500.

“Now I buy just two or three bags of Karma Feed in a month, mix it with dregs. It saves cost,” he said.

The collection area thronged with farmers with their bolero pickup trucks. They wait for hours here for the dregs.

Bholanath, a farmer from Pelrithang, said that a few years ago there used to be few farmers who came to collect this feed. The number of collectors increased over the years.

Those days, farmers who owned bolero pick up trucks made good money by collecting and distributing the feed to other farmers. They sold each barrel of dreg for Nu 100-200 depending on the distance from the collection point.

“I also did business initially. It helped us generate income but now most farmers own boleros and they collect for themselves,” he said.

Over the years as the number of farmers who come to collect the feed increased, the waiting hours have become longer.

Farmers fill their barrel in turns. Sometimes they wait for several hours for their turn.

Last week, Nima Tshering from Sompangkha, waited from 7am until 3pm to fill his barrels. “The wait is worth it,” he said. “We save a lot of money.”

Nirmala Pokhrel | Gelephu