Chimi Dema | Tsirang

To establish the first batch of One Gewog One Product (OGOP) products from Patshaling gewog, Tsirang in the domestic market, experts from Thailand International Cooperation Agency (TICA) will train 33 producers in November.

The virtual training will be in two phases: training of trainers and then producers on producing lip balm from beeswax and ground apple juice.

The TICA volunteer based in Tsirang, Chartlada Sangakij said that if the training is successful, the products could be launched in the market by the end of this year.

Although the initial phase targets the domestic market, she said they would work on the value chain to penetrate the international market.

OGOP project’s vision is to produce and market authentic Bhutanese products to enhance the socio-economic well-being of farmers; nurture the rural economy; and create employment opportunities. The project has also trained Patshaling villagers in making paper from banana bark, fermented tea, and raw honey over the past nine months.

Chartlada Sangakij said that banana trees are abundant in the gewog; however, people do not know its use besides feeding to their livestock.

“The paper made from its bark can be used for packaging dairy and other rural products,” she said. “It also has a good market prospect in the tourism sector.”

She said that the main objective behind the initiative is to promote a sustainable lifestyle.

During her final presentation on work progress last week, more than 30 participants in Patshaling demonstrated paper making, fermented tea and beeswax lip balm.

Tshering Wangdi Sherpa, one of the participants, said that he was happy to learn making paper out of banana bark.

“The paper, besides packaging, could be used for educational purposes for our children,” he said. “I see a good business opportunity.”

Patshaling gup Chabi Kumar Rai said that if everything goes well, such an initiative would not only benefit the gewog but also could meet the demand in other dzongkhags.

“Further, it can help enhance the local economy while we can make use of locally available resources,” the gup said.

Tsirang dzongdag Pema said the banana paper could serve as an alternative to deshog (traditional Bhutanese handmade paper) and plastic bags.

“If produced in a large quantity, we could coordinate with the tourism sector to establish the product in the market,” he said.