Haa Valley Cooperative (HVC) in Eusu gewog is facing difficulty in selling cheese in the market.

Having started operating the cooperative for over six months now, Tshewang Norbu, 42, said one of the main challenges was selling cheese. “People had hard time believing in the quality of cheese products simply because it is made using wooden equipment. It helps to compress the cheese.”

As most people do not get to see the process of making cheese, he said that people believe that products associated with machines have chemical contents.

He said that even when using the wooden case, the product was same as that of those made from using hands. “In a cooperative where we make hundreds of cheese for the market, using wooden box is more beneficial. The only difference is the strength of hands,” he said.

Butter, cheese, milk, curd, yogurt, and ice cream are some of the products that the cooperative makes. Lassi is available only during summer.

Tshewang Norbu left his job as a teacher to work in the cooperative along with his five other family members.

He took over the cooperative with his family from May 4 this year from the dzongkhag for three-year term.

He said that the cooperative began to provide employment opportunities for youth in the dzongkhag. Tshewang Norbu said that about seven people were working for the cooperative. They are provided Nu 10,000 salary a month. His wife, daughter, son-in-law and a nephew are also working for the cooperative.

The family does not have to pay rent to the dzongkhag as of now. Dzongkhag has also provided machinery and utensils. However, the maintenance needs to be done accordingly.

Tshewang Norbu said that the profit was about Nu 75 per cheese packet. Each packet has eight pieces of cheese and costs Nu 500. Everyday, about 70 packets of cheese are made in the cooperative.

He said that a kilogram of butter is sold at Nu 400. “We have to collect milk beginning Kana gewog till the fuel depot in the dzongkhag. Even when we go to them to buy, we pay Nu 40 per litre milk.”

Everyday, about 650 litres of milk are collected, he said.

In summer, due to good fodder good quality milk is available from other sellers of the dairy products.

In winter, however, because there is less milk available, it is reserved to make butter and cheese only. The butter is marked HVC to differentiate it from other butter products.

Tashi Zangmo who also works at the cooperative said that other challenges included space for market in milk booths, and maintenance of water source for the cooperative. “As water is equally important to make products, we face problems with the source of water. In summer, the problem gets worse as it gets blocked. One worker is assigned the maintenance and continuity of water.”

The products are taken to the market twice a week, she said. “Sometimes we run out of space at the milk booths in Thimphu as there are more products.”

Rinchen Zangmo | Haa