A cooperative and a ready market behind the success

Neten Dorji | Trashigang

In the hope of earning cash income, villagers of Bikhar and Khabti in Samkhar gewog, Trashigang, started rearing livestock. The distance from the market and the small-scale production of dairy products discouraged them.

The Koufuko dairy plant in Trashigang came as a relief. The Druk Holdings and Investment project assisted the villagers in forming a dairy cooperative. The situation changed.

Villagers today contribute nearly 700 liters of milk everyday to the cooperative, which then sells it to Koufuko. For the farmers involved, it is a reliable source of income.

“I used to have three cows from which I got more than five and half liters of milk daily,” said member Tshering Yangdon. “Since the nearest market is about 15 kilometers from my home, it was not worth selling. But now, it is different.”

Villagers sell milk at the local collection point at a pre-negotiated price.

Leki Wangmo, a mother of three, now owns three cows and sells about 20 litres of milk everyday at Nu 35 a litre.

She said the income from milk changed her life. “My average income is between Nu 20,000 and Nu 30,000 in a month. We save half and spend the rest on our children’ education,” she said.

Neighbour Tshering Yangay also has a similar story to share. “In the past, my dairy was a concern,” she said, “The advantage is not only the price, we are paid cash soon after month ends,” she said.

Almost all households in Khabti and Bikhar rear jersey cows for milk.

The group’s chairperson, Tashi Dorji from Khabti is a happy man.  “The living standard has improved because of dairy farming,” he said. “Those who sell more milk can earn Nu 50,000 to Nu 60,0000 a month.”

He said they hope they can stand on their own feet through cattle rearing.

To ensure the success of dairy farms in the area, farmers have collectively opened a dairy cooperative of 67 people called the ‘Khabti- Bikhar dairy group.

Meanwhile, Mangmi, Tshering Samdrup said the new venture has helped reduce poverty in the gewog. “Now we don’t see any difference between rich and poor,” he said, adding farmers save about Nu 150,000 in a year.