YK Poudel

Bumthang—Chimme begins his routine before dawn. By 5:30 am, he’s behind the wheel of his bolero, criss-crossing villages in Tang to collect milk from local residents. By 9 am, he’ll have gathered around 650 litres of milk. He has been doing this for over a decade.

Chimme was in eighth grade when his father received support from Helvetas Bhutan to establish a milk-processing unit (MPU) in Tralang, Bumthang. He discontinued his schooling to focus on establishing his own venture. At the age of 32, he considers this business to be a success.

Every week, Chimme delivers over 300 strings of chugo to Thimphu via bus

Chimme’s processing unit, situated a few Kilometres from the Tang Gewog Office, operates throughout the day.

“Since 2018, I have been producing chugo (hardened cheese). It fetches a good price,” he said. “The business has picked up after the pandemic.”

“When the business started in 2009, it focused on cheese and butter production, which wasn’t very lucrative. Today, it is a chugo-producing unit.

Chimme’s success has fueled investments in new machinery, a transportation vehicle, and the hiring of two staff members over the past two years.

While the villagers seek a place to sell their milk, Chimme offers them a market.

The Wobthang Community Farm is a daily supplier of 100 litres of milk. Additionally, 54 households from the community supply 580 litres of milk to the MPU.

During the winter season, milk production declines, with MPU receiving only between 250 and 300 litres of milk, posing a challenge to Chimme’s business.

Every week, Chimme delivers over 300 strings of chugo to Thimphu via bus, each string consisting of 20 pieces, which fetches him Nu 240.

Chimme expressed his interest in expanding his business to produce cheese as well. “However, obtaining grant support for a private business, especially in a rural village setting has been a challenge so far,” he said.

Tshomo, a supplier, starts milking her cows as early as 6:30 am, and by 8:30 am, she has the milk ready for the vehicle to pick up. “I supply between 10 and 20 litres daily, fetching Nu 40 per litre,” she said. “The initiative is beneficial for the farmers in the village—we are able to earn a favourable price.”

Norlha, a farmer from Kidum, walks for half an hour to reach the road point.

“The price of milk has increased and it’s much better when we have local infrastructure in the village itself,” he said. “Farmers in the chiwog depend on livestock, making it crucial for relevant agencies to provide timely support with fodder and feed—doing so will encourage the farmers to work effectively.”