Dairy: In an effort to keep their milk cooperative up and running after it was closed almost for three months, the 96 members of Shali Gamu Gonpoeng milk-processing unit in Shali Gamu have decided to reopen the unit.

The cooperative was formed in March 2015 to help farmer generate income by selling dairy products outside the village.

With most of the members living almost four kilometers away from the milk-processing unit, they could not reach the unit on time, especially during monsoon when roadblocks occur frequently.

Lack of market aggravated the problem.

Chairman Sonam Dorji said that the cold storage also kept breaking down and they could not store the milk. He said that the unit used to receive about 200 litres of milk a day from which they used to produce about five kilograms of butter and about 200 balls of cheese.

“But slowly all the members felt discouraged and decided not to sell their milk when they didn’t see any progress,” he said. “They felt it was a loss for them and the unit had to be closed,” said Sonam Dorji.

The members divided Nu 23,000 among themselves after they closed the unit. The unit was established after 96 villagers from the three villages in the chiwog were given improvised cow sheds to raise jersey cows.

“We felt that when government could give us free cowsheds they ought to utilize the facilities. That’s why we decided to form the milk cooperative as a gratitude,” Sonam Dorji said.

However, in October last year, Chiwog Tshogpa Cheki Gyeltshen said they realized that they should revive the unit when government had already spend so much into establishing the unit and, also, as members, they though it was their own duty to revive the cooperative.

That was when they reopened the unit and as of now they are running smoothly, but only about 19 members bring milk. The unit receives about 40 litres of milk in a day. The unit produces about 30 balls of cheese and about 2kg butter that are sold in the chiwog.

Cheki Gyeltshen said that when summer comes the unit will receive more milk. “But we’re little worried how it will go because of poor market in the dzongkhag, lack of proper cold storage, vehicle and summer roadblocks that hinders the daily business. We’re determined, however, and we will try not to fail this time.”

The group has saved about Nu 100,000 in their joint account so that they don’t run into loss if they decide to close again.

“We’re hoping livestock officials would help us provide a bigger cold storage,” Sonam Dorji added. “We’re not in a position to buy the necessary equipment.”

Yangchen C Rinzin,  Pemagatshel