Industry: A festival to help cottage and small industries began yesterday.

The festival called ‘Gakyid Gatoen’ is an interactive in-situ decentralised exhibition of cottage industries in Thimphu, Paro and Haa and will go on until the end of next month.

The decentralised hands-on programme exhibition (D-HOPE) is an alternative rural development to encourage sustainable rural entrepreneurship in villages.

The Department of Cottage and Small Industry (DCSI) is implementing the programme with technical support from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

DCSI senior industries officer Pema Dekar said that service providers would offer refreshments and share their knowledge on their respective trades, products and services.

“The festival is a unique opportunity to show their talents and promote their products and services,” deputy chief industries officer Prem Adhikari said.

The idea of the festival is to offer everyone, whether tourist or Bhutanese, the opportunity to learn about the traditional cottage industry and experience the process first-hand.

A catalogue with information on the cottage industries such as the time, location, the price of a visit and how to book a visit in these three dzongkhags was launched yesterday.

Centralised exhibitions are expensive to organise and participation particularly by small entrepreneurs is a challenge, DSCI officials said.

The decentralised version provides a solution to the challenges of poor participation and huge costs of organising a centralised exhibition.

“The entrepreneurs do not need to travel, they can continue their work uninterrupted and this saves them time and money,” an official said.

The festival is expected to enhance confidence of the rural people and improve rural economy.

The programme is expected to boost the country’s small and cottage industry. Besides showcasing their products, the community-based enterprises can also sell their products and generate income.

Kinley Dendup, a mushroom grower in Taba, Thimphu said that this programme will encourage the customers to learn more about their options of goods and services which would also prompt the industries to improve upon their products and services.

He is also working towards forming a cooperative of mushroom growers.

“We can take advantage of this festival,” he said.

Chimi Wangmo from Silambi, Mongar who operates a home-based embroidery services said such programmes could give them a much-needed advertising opportunity.

“So far we have been struggling to get customers,” another embroider, Kinga Yangden said.

Kinga Yangden, who has been in the business for the past nine years, said that since she graduated from the Zorig Chusum institute, she has been running after customers and asking friends for work.

By July this year, 45 officials comprising the government, non-government organisations, and private sector will be involved in the community development approach.

Another participant of the D-HOPE programme said that the D-HOPE enterprises could be useful for the development of community-based tourism in the country.

Pema Dekar said the festival’s impact would be evaluated to decide on the future course of the programme.

 Tshering Palden