Business: Lack of market and increased cost of production in Zhemgang is affecting the growth of the only desho (hand-made paper) production factory in Tingtibi, according to the factory’s lessee, DS Tamang.

The lessee, who pays a monthly rent of Nu 11,000 to the actual owner, claimed that the business, which started in 1999, has not improved and is barely surviving.

DS Tamang claimed he sells his product, high-quality printing paper for certificates and photocopying, to Thimphu, Phuentsholing and Gelephu. “But there are limited buyers,” he said.

He also said there are more desho suppliers than buyers.

The lessee also said the local people of Kidkhar and Tali, who used to sell him raw materials such as the bark of the Edgeworthia Papyri tree in kilogrammes, now prefer to sell only in bundles. “This has resulted in an increase in the cost of raw materials,” he said.

He reasoned that a bundle of wet bark costs around Nu 250 and three bundles produce 100 sheets.

Operating in an old traditional house with two rooms, one for making the paper and the other as an office and store, DS Tamang said his business is expected to improve, as the owner intends to establish a hand-made paper-printing factory in the area.

“If the owner starts that business, I can produce desho in huge quantities, as there is a market,” DS Tamang said.

The owner of the desho production company, Rinzin Phuntsho said he established his business with support from the dzongkhag but despite his hard work to keep producing the paper to preserve a Bhutanese tradition, lack of capacity-building support from the dzongkhag affected the business.

“I was encouraged to start the business by the dzongkhag but they didn’t support me enough,” Rinzin Phuntsho said. “I need experts from other countries to train my staff.”

Rinzin Phuntsho said that except for a group of people from Japan, who visited the factory, no trainings have been provided to his employees.

Tashi Tenzin