Innovation: In the village of Septokha in Baap gewog, Punakha, 44-year old Namgay is fabricating wood to be used for a machine, while his neighbours are busy working in the paddy fields.

The once busy farmer is today a local grain-sorting machine maker. Namgay is perhaps the first Bhutanese farmer to fabricate such machines.

He was inspired to make one after watching videos of a wooden grain-sorting machine made in Thailand.

He started making the machines in February this year. He sells each machine for Nu 10,000. Although it is not a harvest season, around 40 farmers have already placed orders for next year.

Namgay said his grain-sorting machine is lighter and user-friendly and can be used for  nine types of grains. Except for the gear, which he purchases from Kolkata, all the other components of his grain-sorting machine are handmade, he said. It doesn’t need electricity to run.

Namgay initially started with making wooden winnowers, which was introduced sometime in May 2015. Till date, Namgay has sold more than 50 winnowers. He sells each wooden winnower for Nu 6,500. Currently, he has received orders for 20 winnowers.

Namgay said his two products looks similar in shape, but unlike the grain-sorting machine, the winnower is solely used to separate chaff from rice.

Namgay started with two winnowers initially; a manual and an electric one, but his customers preferred the manual one.

He attributes the success of his small business to Loden Foundation, a non-government organisation from which he received a Nu 500,000 loan at one percent interest.

“Since I didn’t have money to start the business, I thought of giving up, but later I learnt about Loden and applied for a loan,” he said. “My proposal was selected among hundreds and I received money, and that became a turning point of my life.”

Meanwhile, Namgay said he is content and hopeful for the future of his business. His products receive praise from many including the agriculture minister when it was showcased during a business event in Thimphu. The minister even assured that the ministry would provide him with some support, he said.

Dawa Gyelmo | Punakha