A dairy cooperative in Tsirang called the Tsirang Gonor Thuenken Detsen has doubled its product processing and milk collection in a month.

From about 300 litres of milk collection last month, the cooperative has doubled the collection to over 600 litres a day now. There are 135 registered member farmers from the three gewogs of Gosarling, Kilkhorthang and Tsholingkhar who contribute milk to the cooperative.

Among the three, Kilkhorthang contributes 264 litres from its 53 members, followed by 225 litres from 48 farmers in Tsholingkhar gewog. The 34 farmers of Gosarling began selling milk regularly to the group recently.

The chairman of the group, Mon Bahadur Dahal, said that one of the main reasons for the increase in the milk collection was because lots of farmers came forward wanting to join the group and contribute milk.

“To meet the growing demand for diary products, we had to expand our capacity,” he said.

The cooperative has deployed three boleros to collect milk from farmers every morning. It starts collection at 6am and reaches the cooperative collection centre located below Damphu town by 8.30am.

The unit produces about 400 cheese balls, 20 kilograms of butter and 15kgs of curd a day. “ About 40 litres of fresh milk is also sold from the MPU counter every day.

“Now we’ve milk and other diary products enough for everyone here,” Mon Bahadur Dahal said. “Excess products are sold to other dzongkhags such as Paro, Thimphu and Wangdue.”

The dzongkhag livestock sector has also expanded the capacity of the cooperative by installing necessary machinery. Milk processing is done in a separate structure constructed recently. There are two cream separators, a butter churner, and a chilling and a yoghurt plant.

Mon Bahadur said the chilling machine would be operational soon, as the cooperative will begin making and packaging yoghurt later this month.

“We’re looking forward to yoghurt production to make some profit,” he said.  “We are on tight budget at the moment and barely make enough to pay our four employees.”

The cooperative is serious about the quality of milk and conducts tests at two stages – once at the point of collection using a lactometer and another on reaching the processing unit using an ultrasonic milk analyser.

“The ultrasonic milk analyser is so sensitive that it gives reading for the addition of few drops of water as well,” Mon Bahadur said. “To avoid any such complications, farmers are recommended to wipe off all water from their container before milking.”

He also said that the cooperative terminated membership of at least four farmers for poor quality milk. “We warn the farmers on the first instance and the membership is terminated in the second instance. The quality of milk determines our profit and the sustainability of this cooperative.”

Meanwhile, the 135 members of the cooperative contribute Nu 100 every month, which is deposited in an account with the Bhutan Development Bank. The money will be used for maintenance of the machinery.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang