Cooperative: About 53 farmers from different villages in Sampheling (Pasakha), Chukha got paid for supplying milk for the month of June. Although not really profitable at the moment, the dairy business has grown and production increased.

Sampheling Miday Gonor Gongphel Detshen (SMGGD) was started in 2009.

The group today has about 38 registered members who supply milk. About 15 members are yet to be registered with the group. Milk from SMGGD is sold in Phuentsholing.

Among the suppliers is 69-year-old IB Rai from Gurung Basti who received Nu 17,000. But the earning from milk supply is just about enough to take care of his cow, said IB Rai. More than half the income will go into buying fodder for the animals.

“I have five jersey cows,” he said, adding that he is among the few in his village who have more than three cows.

Majority of the people in Gurung Basti have left livestock farming over cardamom farming today. Cardamom and the lucrative earning, IB Rai said, has lured people to look for partnership with those who have land.

SMGGD buys a litre of milk for Nu 32. The group procures about 1,100 litres of milk every day, which is then sold in Phuentsholing.

Chairman of SMGGD, Birkha Bdr Rai, said production has increased by much today. “It is likely that overall production and supply figures will climb higher this year.”

Last year, the group’s committee saw members contribute about 900 litres a day. By the year end, SMGGD recorded a supply of more than 7 million tonnes of milk.

Today, daily supply has increased to about 1,100 litres. About 90 litres that is left after sales in Phuentsholing will be used to make cheese and butter.

Birkha Bdr Rai has 23 milking cows. He said that more than 60 percent of the payment he received yesterday (Nu 200,000) will go into feeding and caring the cows.

Pema Dolma from Burkay walks for more than an hour to SMGGD with milk.” I got Nu 7,730 today,” she said. “I have three milking cows.” Pema Dolma supplied more than 200 litres of milk last month.

Controlling milk quality and storing the excess milk are two major issues that the group is facing currently. SMGGD has plans to store milk, pack and sell them after installing storing facility in future.

Rajesh Rai | Phuentsholing