Jigmi Wangdi

Bhutan Agro Industries Limited (BAIL) launched a new apple juice. Coinciding with the national day on December 17, BAIL will launch another new product, electrolyte water.

According to BAIL’s Chief Executive Officer, Rinzin Dorji, the western Dzongkhags consisting mostly of Paro and Thimphu are the major suppliers of apples. “If you look at the figures, in 2020 we were able to buy 500 metric tonnes of apples. In 2021, because of the border sealing and export and movement restrictions, people were not able to export apples, so we bought 772 tonnes of apples,” he said. “Our target for 2022 is to take in about 750 tonnes of apples.”

He said that starting this year BAIL organised the farmers into groups and has been encouraging them to bring graded apples to the factory. Higher-grade apples, he said would be used to make pure apple juice. “We are also trying to diversify and make other products from apple such as jam.”

The main idea, he said, is to produce premium products and pay the farmers a better price.

BAIL established a subsidiary processing plant at Lingmethang, Mongar in 2019. Rinzin said that the products coming from the east are pineapple, orange, apple, mango, and passion fruit. “Orange is already a cash crop in the east and southeast, but moving forward, we are encouraging people to take up commercial farming of pineapple through contract-farming.”

About 180 acres of land has been registered with BAIL to be used for contract-farming. Farmers are also encouraged to grow ginger, garlic, and soybeans, among others.

Rinzin said that food safety regulation is very high at BAIL.  “Our products are much safer compared to the imported ones because whatever we grow is natural and organic,” he said.

BAIL has signed a memorandum of understanding with the College of Natural Resources in Punakha. BAIL and CNR will work together to conduct research and product development. BAIL is also planning to collaborate with other colleges in the country.

BAIL was established in 1993 to promote the economy of rural Bhutan. BAIL has grown to be the country’s number one producer of agro-products.