Agriculture: Rangzhin Sanam Detshen, a farmers’ cooperative in Khatoe gewog, Gasa has remained defunct since its establishment in 2004 until recently.

On February 9, the cooperative secured the first biggest commercial deal. The cooperative signed a memorandum of understanding with 11 major hotels and restaurants in Thimphu, including Aman Kora, Taj Tashi, Druk Hotel, Termalinca, Hotel Ariya, and Pedling, among others beginning July.

The cooperative will supply organic potato for Nu 31, garlic for Nu 120, and carrot for Nu 60 a kilogramme respectively.

The cooperative is the first certified organic grower’s group of Khatoe Gewog, Gasa. Of the 75 households in the gewog, more than 50 are its members.

The cooperative’s treasurer, Damcho Wangdi said, “The produce from Gasa were declared organic about 10 years ago but nothing happened there were no such initiative.”

Gasa Dzongdag, Dorji Dhradhul, said: “There are some concerns of continuity but if we don’t make a start somewhere then there is no way to make more progress later.”

Damcho Wangdi said that with the launch of the initiative to market organic produce from the dzongkhag, more farmers have begun to till their fallow fields.

“Of the two acres, my family cultivated only in 60 decimals,” Damcho Wangdi said. “Now we’ve increased that to an acre.”

Senior agriculture extension supervisor of Khatoe, Chewang Gyeltshen, said that the prices of the produce have only a small margin from the market prices. “For instance, a kilogramme of garlic costs Nu 100, the negotiated price is Nu 120 only, so benefits both parties.”

Dorji Dhradhul said that this initiative could contribute to the stronger nation building by promoting production and consumption of local produce thereby directly reducing imports.

“This is a flagship driver of the Good to Great Gasa vision of self-reliance,” Dorji Dhradhul said.

The MoU is expected also to strengthen the agriculture ministry’s organic programme as all three products are certified organic.

Tshering Palden